Ocean Network Express (ONE), which operates about 230 container ships, is taking “flexible counter-measures” amid “extremely uncertain freight market conditions” caused by the Red Sea crisis and drought in the Panama Canal.

Apart from suspending one service in the Middle East, as TradeWinds reported on 26 January, the Japanese company announced in its latest financial results on Wednesday that it has been rerouting some Asia-US services via the Cape of Good Hope as well.

As a result of low water levels in the Panama Canal, ONE has also been using overland transport in Panama to link some of its Asian services to transatlantic routes.

The company, which also has 45 container ship newbuildings under construction, slid into a loss in the third quarter of 2023, mainly due to low freight rates in October.

ONE posted an $83m loss, compared with a $2.77bn profit in the third quarter of 2022. Revenue sagged by 46% year on year to $3.36bn.

The company, however, slightly raised its guidance for full-year 2023 after-tax profit to $856m from the $851m it had predicted in October. ONE raked in nearly $15n in profits in 2022.

This improved guidance is probably due to a freight rate increase the company said it saw in December following the Red Sea crisis, which caused about 90% of global container ship traffic to reroute Suez traffic around southern Africa.

“The situation in the Middle East has caused an instant tonnage shortage,” it said.

“Although the supply and demand outlook and freight market conditions are extremely uncertain, ONE will focus on maximising profit by flexible tonnage deployment and efficient equipment control based on demand.”