Containers lines are making the most of their new-found wealth. The ocean carriers are using their spending power to buy up ships as soon as they come on to the market.
In normal times, carriers would be sourcing their longer-term charters from NOOs (non-operating shipowners). However, with their deep pockets, now they are able to outbid the NOOs and snap up the few vessels available.
Initially, the liners were buying to support their networks in the absence of open charter tonnage. But now it seems they are seeing an opportunity for significant financial gain.
Disrupting the markets
The danger is that this new practice will risk disrupting both the charter and feeder markets.
Carriers are now undertaking more of their own feeder operations themselves. While own feeders are the preferred options for carrier, giving them total control, they used to be the more expensive option. Not so anymore.
At present, liners are buying the ships out of necessity as the charter market is under huge demand. But the question remains; what will happen when the demand gets back to normal?
Will the liners take on the role of NOOs themselves?