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While not all the sectors are flourishing equally, shipping in general is doing its best since the financial crisis of 2008. Container ship bookings are now into 2026, dry bulk is experiencing upticks, and the tanker trades are generally solid. This is great news, but I would urge some strategic caution rather than a boondoggle of spending.
In the five years leading up to 2020 and the COVID crisis, the airline industry raked in $411 billion in ancillary service fees alone. Yet when the crisis hit, the airlines were the first in line for government support. Where was their nest egg or their umbrella against a rainy day? Long since spent.
The maritime industry is facing some capital-intensive expenditures in the next few years between investments in decarbonization as well as digitalization. But are we prepared to make these decisions? Do we have enough information not only about what is “on offer”, but also how to anticipate the ship of the future? Don’t forget, too, that we have plenty of evidence to illustrate how shipping shoots itself in the foot when it goes on a spending spree!
We have the opportunity today to reap the rewards of intentional investment. In our data-driven world, we have the luxury of information and projections. While no one has perfected the crystal ball, we are close to the development of AI for fleet management and growth. Let’s use these tools to achieve long term goals, rather than short term gains.