Demand for ocean
shipping is healthy again and freight rates are high, but Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf
Habben Jansen doesn’t want to “get carried away,” cautioning during a press
briefing last week that there still could be economic hits to come from the
continuing coronavirus pandemic.
Volume hit its low
mark in March, when much of the world was shut down due to COVID-19 and the
number of blanked sailings grew to levels ports hadn’t seen.
If demand is not there, you have to take out the cost Jansen said
“One of the things
we’ve certainly learned this year is that if demand is not there, you have to
take out the cost,” Jansen said. “In April, we were facing a loss of revenue of
about $200 million from one month to the other. You had to do something.”
“There has been
fairly strong recovery, particularly on the east-west, from July,” he said.
“The industry in general has been able to react very well.”
“A lot of people
have faced all sorts of disruptions this year,” Jansen said. “On the whole,
shipping has been able to keep goods flowing.”
And flowing they are.
“If you go back a
couple of months, nobody would have expected that demand would be as strong
today as it is right now,” he said. “I don’t think anyone expected that demand
would be so strong,” he said.
An end — or at
least a lull — to the COVID-19 crisis has allowed Hapag-Lloyd to concentrate on
Overall we’re roughly on track
“Our focus will
remain on profitability, cost control and making sure we have a healthy balance
sheet and continue to reduce and repay debt,” Jansen said. “Overall we’re
roughly on track.”
(S&P) upgraded Hapag-Lloyd’s credit rating
Last week Standard
& Poor’s (S&P) upgraded Hapag-Lloyd’s credit rating from B+ to BB- with
a positive outlook. Hapag-Lloyd said this is its highest rating it has received
since S&P initiated its research in 2010.
raised Hapag-Lloyd’s senior unsecured bond rating from B- to B.
This entire pandemic will have a clear effect on the global economy
“The outlook for
the rest of the year has not deteriorated,” said Jansen in last week’s
briefing, cautioning, “I don’t get carried away. This entire pandemic will have
a clear effect on the global economy.”