The leased fleet now has a clear majority over that owned by transport operators as companies continued moving towards container leasing, according to shipping consultancy Drewry.
Leasing companies accounted for 55% of container purchases in 2017, which continues the trend seen for most of this decade.
With the fleet of containers owned by transport operators growing by a mere 2.4%, the leased fleet added 6.7% and the share owned by lessors is now nearing 52%.
“Drewry expects this trend to continue over the next few years,” Martin Dixon, Drewry’s director of research products, said, adding that the leased share of the fleet could reach 54% by 2020.
Container manufacturing staged a 55% rebound in 2017, with dry van building more than recovering from the 2016 slump as buyers responded to the rebound in the liner industry.
Despite the influx of new boxes, the average age of the fleet remained above 6.5 years for the second year running.
Newbuild prices have been relatively stable, according to Drewry. They recovered quickly as demand returned last year and have been largely stable ever since.
“Geopolitical issues notwithstanding, we do not expect any significant change in newbuild prices over the next couple of years,” added Dixon.
“However, prices of used containers have been rising steadily, although their future trajectory is harder to predict.”