Hapag-Lloyd is once again investing heavily in its container fleet: Following its large order of 150,000 TEU of containers in April, the shipping company ordered an additional 60,000 TEU of standard containers at the end of May. In doing so, Hapag-Lloyd is responding to the persistent global shortage of equipment – and will be able to provide a better service to its customers.
The expansion of the container fleet has been prompted by the massive shortage of boxes over the course of the pandemic. Since August 2020, the demand for container transports has far exceeded the supply. The lockdowns have contributed significantly to this unexpected boom: A lot of people have been working from home and spending less money on travelling and services. Instead, they have been investing in new furniture, DIY/home improvement products, electronics and sports equipment.
In addition to the surge in demand, there are currently several other factors contributing to the container shortage, including: congestion in the ports, sailing delays, severe imbalances in the capacity utilisation of ships (e.g. with exports from Asia), and delays in hinterland transports. As a result, containers are tied up in transit for much longer periods of time, which in turn means that shipping companies need more containers to transport the same volume at the same rate of sailings.
“Demand continues to be very high, and the supply of container equipment is currently one of our industry’s biggest challenges and demands our full attention,” says Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jansen. “To counteract the container shortage – but, most importantly, to offer our customers a better service – we have repeatedly invested in our container fleet since the beginning of the pandemic.”
For example, in mid-April, Hapag-Lloyd had already ordered 150,000 TEU of standard and reefer containers and 8,000 TEU special containers for dangerous goods and oversized cargo (with “TEU” designating a “20-foot equivalent unit”, the measure used for capacity in container transportation, although most containers are 40 feet long). Amounting to roughly USD 550 million, this investment was one of the biggest container orders in the company’s history. Another 60,000 TEU will be added with the current order.
The first boxes of this new order should already start being delivered and integrated into our existing container fleet in early July. The majority will then be delivered in the third quarter.