Joseph Bonney, Senior Editor | Mar 17, 2015 1:52PM EDT
Three carrier alliances are launching Asia-U.S. East Coast services that will increase capacity on the route by 6 percent, according to industry analyst Alphaliner.
The new Panama Canal services follow recent West Coast port congestion that has led shippers to seek alternatives, even on higher-priced all-water services to East Coast ports that in some cases are struggling to handle the increased volume.
At least four CKYHE alliance partners — Cosco, Yang Ming, Hanjin Shipping and Evergreen Line — are launching a new service this month with nine ships with capacities of 4,200 to 5,000 20-foot-equivalent units, Alphaliner reported. “K” Line has not confirmed its participation in the loop, which Evergreen is calling “NUE3” and the others are calling “AWS/AWE-S.”
The G6-Zim “SCE/NYE” service will be split into two loops in May. Ten Panamax ships on the NYE will call on a rotation of Kaohsiung, Ningbo, Shanghai, Busan, Manzanillo, Savannah, New York, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Manzanillo, Balboa, Busan, and Kaohsiung. Zim will remain a participant in the separate SCE, and contribute three of the service’s nine ships calling Xiamen, Kaohsiung, Dachan Bay, Hong Kong, Yantian, Manzanillo, Kingston, Savannah, Charleston, Kingston, Manzanillo, and Xiamen.
A third new service will be an Asia-U.S. East Coast-North Europe pendulum service to be launched in May by CMA CGM, Hamburg Sud and United Arab Shipping Co. The service will use 15 ships of 4,200-TEU capacity, nine provided by CMA CGM, five by Hamburg Sud and one by UASC, which will participate only on the trans-Atlantic leg. It will call at Qingdao, Ningbo, Shanghai, Busan, Cartagena, Savannah, Charleston, Norfolk, New York, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Le Havre, Southampton, New York, Norfolk, Charleston, Savannah, Cartagena, and Qingdao.
Additional all-water services to the East Coast could be on the way. Alphaliner noted that Zim has deployed three spare 8,400-10,060-TEU ships to the route as ad hoc extra sailers, and could be adding a regular service in mid-2015, and that Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co. could add an all-water loop in addition to their two Asia-East Coast services that use the Suez Canal.
Carriers have enjoyed strong East Coast rates amid the West Coast’s congestion. The Shanghai Container Freight Index reported that spot rates from Shanghai fell to $4,569 per 40-foot-equivalent unit from a $5,049 peak in February as West Coast congestion eased and demand dipped following the annual Lunar New Year lull. But even the current all-water rate is more than double the prevailing level on trans-Pacific routes to the West Coast.
A beneficiary of the new all-water services will be vessel owner-charterers, Alphaliner noted. The three new Panama Canal services will require 34 ships, and Panamax vessel supply is expected to remain tight through the summer.