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Japanese container line ONE today reported a $3.5bn profit for 2020 – an astonishing leap from the $105m profit declared for 2019.
The earnings surge came on the back of a 21% increase in annual revenue, to $14.4bn, as the container shipping market rebounded in the second half of last year.
ONE said: “During Q4, global container volumes continued to increase due to a strong demand for consumer goods. Asia-North America trade volume increased by 40% year on year.
“The global cargo volume also grew year on year in Q4, indicating a steady recovery trend from Q3, which is contrary to 2020’s first half when the cargo volume was seriously impacted by Covid-19.”
With a raft of blank sailings introduced shortly after the outbreak of the pandemic, ONE managed to maintain near-100% utilisation on sailings on its two largest trades – the transpacific and Asia-North Europe.
Total volumes carried on the headhaul transpacific eastbound leg were 2.76m teu, compared with 2.69m teu in 2019, although its freight rates were 30% higher last year.
On Asia-Europe, 2020 volumes were 1.56m teu, compared with 1,830 teu in 2019. However, revenues were propped up by a 50% growth in freight rates.
But the carrier declined to provide a forecast for its 2021 performance. It said: “The pandemic is expected to ease with the global vaccination roll-out. But the resurgence of Covid-19 and possible variants are still a great cause for concern.
“The full-year 2021 economic environment will change as the global situation of Covid-19 changes. It is therefore extremely difficult to make a performance forecast and, as such, ONE’s forecasts for full-year 2021 are yet to be finalised.”