Don’t expect the container shortage crisis let up anytime soon. According to a report from the TSA website, container volumes on the Transpacific trade lane showed a first quarter increase of 13% when compared to the same time period in 2009. The TSA carriers reported a total 1st quarter container volume of 1.27 million FEUS from Asia to the US.
“Neither shippers nor carriers were certain as to what direction the market would take coming out of the Lunar New Year holidays,” said Eng Aik Meng, APL Ltd. President, Liner. “Now it appears that the worst is behind us. Despite a pull-back in U.S. job creation and retail sales in May, the pipeline of Asian exports to the U.S. is filling rapidly and consumers are more optimistic over job security and household incomes going forward.” Mr. Eng emphasized that, while headlines have focused on peripheral issues such as European debt and U.S. tax and regulatory developments, many of the underlying fundamentals in the U.S. economy are positive: industrial production and durable goods orders are up, trade is expanding, inflation is low.
Revenue, however, continues to be a sticking point with the carriers. Many carriers faced record losses in in 2009 with the carriers losing a combined $15 billion.
While revenue gains made by carriers in recent months have made an important contribution to carrier balance sheets, carriers say the increases achieved in the current contract round still do not fully restore rates to the levels of late 2008, let alone provide for long-term viability and service expansion. In addition, to cover the costs of the expected robust peak season, individual TSA lines reaffirmed implementation of a previously announced Peak Season Surcharge.
TSA carriers are moving forward with aggressive plans to implement a Peak Season surcharge of $400 per FEU effective August 1. However, many carriers have already implemented a peak season surcharge effective in June.