THE Alliance goes large on the transpacific to reassure shippers

Source: The Loadstar
Date: 19th March 2024

To reassure shippers that its transpacific coverage will remain strong, THE Alliance (Hapag-Lloyd, ONE, HMM and Yang Ming) will reinstate two transpacific services after suspending the strings for almost half a year.

On 15 April, THE Alliance will restore the Asia-US East Coast 4 (EC4/SUEZ1) service that was withdrawn in November for the winter lull season and will return with a new rotation: Kaohsiung, Xiamen, Yantian, Cai Mep, Singapore, Norfolk, Savannah, Charleston, New York, Singapore, and Kaohsiung.

The former call at Hong Kong will be omitted and the loop diverted from transiting the Suez Canal to the Cape of Good Hope on both East and Westbound voyages.

The EC4 service will turn in 13 weeks and will deploy up to 13 ships, of 13,000 to 14,000 teu, from Hapag-Lloyd, ONE and Yang Ming, starting with the 14,080 teu YM Warmth from Kaohsiung.

And, on 19 April, THEA will bring back the US West Coast Pacific North 3 (PN3) service that was pulled in October, ahead of winter.

It will call: Hong Kong, Haiphong, Yantian, Shanghai, Busan, Vancouver, Tacoma, Busan, Kaohsiung and new calls at Hong Kong and Haiphong.

The first sailing is scheduled from Hong Kong with the 13,788 teu newbuild HMM Aquamarine. The service will turn in eight weeks and will deploy eight ships from HMM and Yang Ming.

Next February, Hapag-Lloyd will leave THE Alliance to form Gemini Cooperation with Maersk, leaving THEA with just 2.5m teu of capacity. Amid speculation that Wan Hai Lines could replace Hapag-Lloyd in the grouping, ONE is launching an Asia-US west coast (AP1) service with the Taiwan carrier in May.

These moves aim to reassure customers that THE Alliance carriers will continue to offer a competitive transpacific product for the new contract season, even with the departure of Hapag-Lloyd next year.

Transpacific rates continue to fall sharply amid the usual post-Chinese New Year slack season, making contract discussions tricky.

Contract rate negotiations for the May 2024 season remain unresolved, with a large gap between asking prices and what shippers are willing to accept. Current momentum has turned negative, with capacity still rising, and blank sailings are kept in check, while carriers jostle for market share.

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