The container shipping market continues to show signs of growth after a couple of difficult years. The 20 largest container lines expanded their fleet capacity by 14 per cent in 2010, with the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) leading the way.

MSC added 375,000TEU to its fleet, an increase of 25 per cent, while Maersk maintained its top spot in the global rankings with a fleet of 578 ships of 2.15 million TEU at the start of 2011. But MSC are putting increasing pressure on Maersk with a fleet of 450 ships totalling 1.86 million TEU. The total number of idle ships controlled by lines stands at only 52 of 181,000 TEU compared to more than 800,000 TEU in January 2010.

Some lines, including MSC,CMA CGM, Evergreen and APL, currently have no ships in their fleet that are idle, while those with the most vessels idle include Cosco Container Lines, Zim and Hapag-Lloyd.