HMM confirms Europe return

Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) today confirmed its intention to reenter the Asia-Europe box tradelane on its own with its boss saying incoming environmental legislation will reshape the liner trades and give the Korean carrier a chance to compete.

HMM’s new standalone Asia-North Europe Express (AEX) service will launch on April 8 using ten 4,600 teu vessels. In the past 18 months it has been taking space on the tradelane via its partnership with 2M, the vessel sharing agreement between Maersk and MSC.

The AEX port rotation is Busan, Shanghai, Ningbo, Kaohsiung, Shenzhen, Singapore, Colombo, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Southampton, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Busan and can boast transit times from Busan to Rotterdam of just 30 days.

HMM will also shortly order a series of ultra large containerships which will deliver onto the Asia-Europe tradelane in 2020, the same year that the Korean carrier’s deal with 2M comes up for renewal.

C K Yoo, CEO of HMM, commented: “New environmental regulations are expected to drive changes not only to the shipping industry but also to competitive market environments. I believe that HMM can secure competitiveness in a global market after 2020, if HMM arms itself with eco-friendly mega containerships in preparation of environmental regulations. The 2020 environmental regulation will be an important market-changing factor in [the] shipping industry and the new independent AEX service will be the touchstone of a game-changer.”

Consultants Drewry said in a report this week that the new ships will be used by HMM as a bargaining chip to extend its relationship with 2M in a couple of years or to to leverage full membership of another carrier group such as THE Alliance.

Analysts at Alphaliner described HMM’s new “baby-sized” 4,600 teu AEX service as a gamble, operating independently and at a significant cost disadvantage to its larger rivals in a report published earlier this month.

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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