A.P. Moller-Maersk's chief executive said he expects a "modest" pick-up in trade for the upcoming holidays this year amid concerns about the slowing global economy and consumer demand.
"Volumes headed into the Christmas season are lower than a normal year," Soren Skou said in a Reuters Newsmaker interview.
Ocean freight volumes will be flat or lower this year, though there is still congestion in global supply chains, he said. US consumers aren't buying as much as they did during the pandemic and confidence has been hurt by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
His comments come as freight rates have this year started falling from near record highs, following a period of surging consumer demand and pandemic-related logjams at ports.
They remain well above pre-pandemic levels. Maersk has raised its 2022 profit guidance twice this year as high freight rates persisted longer than expected.
In August, Skou said he expected a 'normalisation' of the global shipping market towards the end of the year, as inflation and a worsening economic situation dented consumer demand.
The shipping group exceeded second-quarter revenue expectations as congested global supply chains boosted freight rates.
Revenue in the second quarter stood at $21.7 billion (€21.2 billion), it said, above the $19.7 billion (€19.3 billion) forecast by analysts in a poll gathered by the company.
Elsewhere, shipping firm CMA CGM announced plans to reduce container shipping rates by about 10% for large retailers in France to support government steps to curb inflation.