Shipping lines like Maersk, MSC or Hapag Loyd operate their own fleet of containers they use for their own requirements. However, they run into situations where they have a shortage of a certain type of container or in a specific location. That’s where leasing companies like Triton or Seaco come into play – the provide equipment on different lease terms to shipping lines or NVOCCs. Also read Martyn Bensons answer on Quore where he described the financial background of container leasing companies a bit more.
Currently, there is a move towards container leasing and away from carrier ownership according to Drewry’s latest report. Leasing companies accounted for 55% of newly built container purchases in 2017. Because the fleet of containers owned by leasing companies grows by approx. 7% the share of equipment owned by lessors is now 52%. And Drewry expects the share to grow to 54% until 2020. Not owning the container has several benefits for shipping lines such as financial savings (storage costs), maintenance, repair or repositioning.