Extra capacity on main east-west trades set to calm shipper nerves

Leading container analyst Alphaliner is claiming that Saturday’s start of the new box alliances has gone smoothly, but shippers are not convinced.

“Transition to the new alliances’ services on the key East-West routes, involving the world’s 17 top ocean carriers, got off to a smooth start on 1 April 2017, and service disruptions have not been reported,” Alphaliner maintained in its latest weekly report.

Members of the European Shippers’ Council (ESC) however remain unhappy about the transition.
The ESC claims goods to be exported have been waiting for up to eight weeks to be loaded on ships.

“The present capacity is insufficient to take all shipments. In addition, carriers provide no guarantee whatsoever that all goods of a shipment will be loaded,” ESC said in a release yesterday, while noting that freight rates are increasing.

Providing some succor to the complaints, Alphaliner suggests that this current capacity impasse will be over very soon.

Networks operated under the four old carrier alliances will be phased out over the coming weeks, as vessels end voyages on their current rotations. Gradually, the network is being replaced by revised services under the setup of the three new alliances, namely the Ocean Alliance, THE Alliance and 2M with new partner HMM.

The transition will bring capacity increases across the board, Alphaliner observed, as carriers “gear up for another battle for market share” in the Asia-Europe and transpacific trades.

According to latest data collected by Alphaliner, total weekly capacity on the Asia-Europe and transpacific routes will increase by 7.1% and 7.4% respectively in April, compared to March.

“The current capacity shortage on the eastbound Europe to Asia backhaul route should be fully resolved by the end of April as the first of the new alliances’ services arrive in European ports with enhanced capacity provisions,” Alphaliner stressed.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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