The world’s major container shipping lines made estimated collective losses of $3.5 billion in 2016, their first annual deficit since 2011, despite a strong end to a bad year, reports container shipping analyst Drewry. But things are looking up for 2017 and beyond.

Most of the last few carriers published their annual financial results last week, Drewry noted, enabling the company to fully assess the extent of the damage wrought in 2016, although Cosco was too late to include in its report today.

After analysing the results, Drewry noted: “The first thing that we see is that our previous operating loss estimate of approximately $5 billion made at the end of September was too severe. A better-than-expected fourth-quarter, when carriers collectively just about broke-even, combined with favourable revisions to both our loaded-container and average-revenue-per-teu estimates – two key drivers of our profit model – means that we now believe industry operating losses were closer to $3.5bn.”