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Maersk container boss sees box upturn in Asia

Copenhagen: Maersk Line chief executive Eivind Kolding says his company expects container export trades from Asia to grow by 3-8% in 2010. The A P Moller-Maersk director sees the first signs of rising cargo volumes, with liftings up in November compared with one year ago. But 2010 will nevertheless be "extremely challenging". He does not, however, subscribe to the double-dip philosophy and expects volumes to continue to grow, though not in a linear fashion.

Kolding anticipates that the number of container ships laid-up by the company will peak during this slack season, after Christmas in the west, probably rising from today's 16-17 vessels by a few more units. However, he says, laid-up ships will not include any of the company's largest vessels - these are still working effectively, with good load factors, through close cooperation with partners in vessel-sharing arrangements.

In fact, Kolding points out that most of the container vessels laid up so far are in the medium sizes, notably Panamax units, underscoring that the company's pioneering move into operating the world's largest container vessels was the right one.  

None of the company's 40-odd newbuildings are likely to be laid up either, Kolding says. "Although 40 ships seems a high number," he says, "in relative terms, it's really quite modest. They will mostly deliver through 2011/12 and, by then, we will need them."

Maersk today operates a fleet of about 460 container ships, of which a little over half are owned vessels. The company has redelivered a number of chartered vessels this year, as well as recycling some nine older leased units in China. A clear demonstration of its green initiatives, the company has netted about $18m less from this recycling process than it could have made by running the ships on to the beach.  [04/12/09]

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