The analyst says the actions taken by lines to consolidate services and redeliver chartered tonnage mean the worst of the downturn is over for globally competitive operators, although smaller players such as Yang Ming Marine Transport and OOCL may remain under pressure. But much of the self-help undertaken by the liner industry is piling pressure onto already beleaguered charter owners.

In MSI’s fourth-quarter review, senior analyst James Frew attributes the recovery in freight rates to the redelivery and sub-sequent idling of vessels under charter owner control, “whilst the consolidation of liner capacity implies the potential for greater operating efficiency and a concomitant reduction in demand for vessels”.