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Maersk plans for 140 blank sailings, up to 25% volume drop in second quarter

May 13, 2020 / Matt Leonard

Maersk expects to cancel 140 sailings in the second quarter after issuing 90 blank sailings (a 3.5% drop in capacity) earlier this year, the carrier said in its first-quarter report released Wednesday. The void trips are a way for the carrier to cut costs as demand for ocean freight falls due to lockdown measures stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. Maersk expects demand to fall 20% to 25% in the second quarter across all its businesses, it said in the report. The company had been forecasting a 1% to 3% increase in demand for ocean freight in 2020. The size of the company's global container fleet has grown to 23.3 million as of the end of the first quarter. The idle fleet grew to 9.4% (2.2 million TEUs) in the first quarter, which Maersk said was the "highest record in more than 10 years." The rate of ocean freight capacity cancellations has leveled off with carriers announcing six new blank sailings last week, but this is well above what is typically seen as a result of the Chinese New Year, according to the latest numbers from Sea-Intelligence.