RCL ship Mathu Bhum Credit VesselFinder
RCL's Mathu Bhum. Photo: VesselFinder.

Thailand’s Regional Container Lines (RCL) is to expand its routes beyond its core intra-Asia remit, as the market becomes more competitive.

RCL, which saw a substantial drop in its Q1 23 net profit – at $26.8m, an 89% decline from Q1 22 – is considering launching services into Africa.

In Q1 23, RCL’s freight revenue dived to $394 per teu from $773 in Q1 22.

RCL president Twinchok Tanthuwanit said: “In Q1 23, several adverse factors affected the container shipping market, including global economic slowdown, inflation, high bunker prices and geopolitical conflicts. However, through the implementation of cost-conscious measures, the company successfully reduced both fixed and variable operating costs. Consequently, the company has been able to sustain its net profit.

“Freight rates and lifting volumes have adjusted to the pre-Covid period. The market has also become more competitive. In response to intensifying market competition, the company has proactively adapted by expanding its markets beyond intra-Asia destinations, including Africa.”

RCL has also moved into a tonnage provision role and the Thanya Bhum, a 12,000 teu newbuilding acquired at Imabari Shipbuilding, has been chartered to Zim Line and renamed Zim Bangkok.

RCL is also targeting more reefer business and fleet renewal. Late last year, RCL scrapped two older feeder ships, Xetha Bhum and Mathu Bhum, and ordered four 7,000 teu ships from Shanghai Waigaoqiao and two of 12,000 teu from Nihon Shipyard.

The Thai carrier has also been acquiring tonnage on the second-hand market. In late 2022, RCL acquired 2004-built 4,992 teu Api Bhum and 2006-built 5,888 teu Araya Bhum, and this April purchased ASL Peony, a newly built 1,930 teu vessel, from CSSC (Hong Kong) Shipping, for an undisclosed price.

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