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Shipping giant laying off 10,000 as pandemic boom turns to bust

Shipping giant Maersk’s layoffs hit 10,000

LONDON (CNN) — Shipping giant Maersk is laying off thousands more workers as weak demand and lower freight prices pummel its revenues — a sign the COVID-19 pandemic-driven boom in shipping is turning to bust.

One of the world’s biggest shipping firms said in its third-quarter results Friday that its revenues had almost halved to $12 billion compared with the same period last year.

The Danish company has cut around 6,500 jobs this year as it grapples with “challenging market conditions,” it revealed. It plans to axe another 3,500, with most of those layoffs coming in the next eight weeks.

The combined cuts will reduce the company’s workforce to below 100,000.

“Our industry is facing a new normal with subdued demand, prices back in line with historical levels and inflationary pressures on our cost base,” Maersk Chief Executive Vincent Clerc said in a statement.

The company posted a record annual profit last year but has warned for months that the spike in shipping prices it enjoyed when economies reopened from pandemic lockdowns, releasing a wave of pent-up demand for goods, could not last.

The composite cost of shipping a 40-foot container on eight major global routes stood at $1,406 this week, according to London-based Drewry Shipping. That’s 54% below its level during the same week in 2022.

Maersk also said it expected its full-year profit to come in at the lower end of its previously stated range of $9.5 billion to $11 billion.

The company’s shares sank as much as 12.5% in early trade Friday, extending those losses later to trade down 17.2% by 7.41 a.m. ET.