End Of Red Sea Crisis Poses Challenges For Carriers, Says Maersk



  • Maersk executives suggest that the resolution of the Red Sea crisis could have a more dramatic impact on container lines than a prolonged disruption.
  • The potential for a sudden reopening of the Red Sea and Suez Canal this quarter may lead to a steep decline in freight rates, resembling October 2023 levels.
  • While the crisis has provided additional revenue and allowed carriers to recoup costs, the removal of surcharges upon normal sailings through the Suez Canal could lead to short-term wins for shippers and challenges for carriers.
  • Maersk outlines two extreme scenarios and anticipates varying impacts on rates and industry capacity.

As the Red Sea crisis unfolds, Maersk executives discuss the potential scenarios and their impact on freight rates and industry capacity. The resolution of the crisis, whether sudden or prolonged, poses challenges for container lines.

Two Extreme Scenarios

Maersk outlines two extreme scenarios regarding the Red Sea crisis. The first scenario involves a sudden reopening of the Red Sea and Suez Canal this quarter, while the second scenario envisions a full year of disruption. The implications for freight rates and industry capacity differ significantly in these scenarios.

Impact of Sudden Reopening

If container ships can suddenly transit the Red Sea and Suez Canal in the current quarter, Maersk anticipates a steep decline in rates. The carrier suggests that rates could drop to October 2023 levels, falling $990 per TEU for Asia to Europe by April 2024. While this may benefit shippers in the short term, carriers would face additional costs to unwind the situation in the Red Sea. Maersk expects this scenario to negatively impact its performance in Q2 immediately.

Oversupply and Capacity Increase

Maersk’s data indicates that if normal sailings resume this quarter, the market would experience a sudden 6% oversupply of capacity, increasing to 8% by the end of the year. This oversupply would lead to challenges for the industry, with carriers having to balance out capacity.

Prolonged Disruption Scenario

In the second scenario, where the Red Sea situation continues for the full year, Maersk envisions a more balanced supply-demand scenario. The industry would have longer to adjust to the disruptions, leading to a break-even scenario as the year progresses. Rates are expected to decline, but the decrease would occur at a smoother rate compared to the sudden reopening scenario.

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Source: The Loadstar


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