Shippers and forwarders, some already bruised following the rollout of new global container shipping alliances and subsequent delays in the trade between China and Europe, are preparing for more pain and disruption in the form of canceled sailings and even scrubbed services, as carriers scramble to mitigate a massive injection of capacity on the Asia-Europe trade over the next two years. 

The 23 percent jump in capacity forecast by industry analyst SeaIntel jeopardizes carriers’ improving fortunes; after six straight years of financial losses totaling billions of dollars, they’re set to end the year with a collective profit of $5 billion, according to London-based Drewry Shipping Consultants. 

Other than tightening capacity from in the eastbound Europe-to-China trade during the run-up to the launch of the new alliances in April and a peak-season surge in volumes that led to congestion at Chinese and European terminals, the trade has been relatively calm.