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Shipping lines are "scrambling for any tonnage" to be able to carry more goods on East-West transport routes. However, ship owners are "taking advantage" as ship charter costs have recently increased rapidly.

In mid-June, the French shipping company CMA-CGM announced the French Peak service when it operated 7 more trips with ships with a capacity of 7,000 TEU connecting Asia to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.

The first sailing departs on June 30 with the APL Oregon ship with a capacity of 6,350 TEU, with the route Yantian (China) - Cai Mep (Vietnam) - Singapore (Singapore) - Le Havre (France) - Antwerp (Belgium). Thereafter, every two weeks there will be a trip from ports in China to destinations in Europe. Additional sailings to bring goods to the Mediterranean have the route Shekou - Cai Mep - Singapore - Fos (France) - Malta.

In its weekly newsletter, consulting firm Alphaliner emphasized: "It is not the first time that CMA CGM provides extra capacity from Asia to French ports." 

"In the last quarter of 2021, when space was tight during the Covid pandemic period, the French carrier deployed three extra sailings from Chinese ports and Singapore to Fos, Le Havre and Dunkirk."

Meanwhile, MSC shipping line's Brittania service operates the 9,640 teu MSC Denisse X will launch on 1 July and connect China and Vietnam to the UK, the Netherlands and Germany – featuring Liverpool as its first European call.

On June 14, MSC also announced that it is restoring its trans-Pacific service, Mustang, from July 8, with the MSC Lella ship with a capacity of 16,000 TEU to be built in 2023, according to the Yantian - Ningbo - Shanghai - Long Beach.

The Geneva-based shipping line said: “In response to increasing transpacific market demand, the Mustang service will provide increased capacity and faster transit times between east Asia and US west coast.”

At the recent Multimodal exhibition in Birmingham (UK), Maersk’s head of ocean product UK and Ireland, Mr. Joe Knight said: "Vessels are fully utilised and that’s why there are new services coming online, which honestly is great for the industry, to get as much pressure out as possible.

“They are very small vessels, in relative terms to the Far East norm. So, you’d be expecting to run 20,000 teu or 14,000 teu vessels, and we’re seeing 3,000 teu ships being deployed,” he added.

Peter Sand, Chief Analyst at Xeneta, told The Loadstar that shipowners are “taking advantage” of the busier market by charging higher charter rates and demanding longer charter periods.

According to Mr. Sand, Maersk recently chartered a 4,600 TEU vessel for two years at $40,000/day and CMA-CGM chartered a 7,100 TEU vessel for about three months at $80,000/day.

CEO of Vespucci Maritime, expert Lars Jensen said that what is happening is "yet another example of the return to pandemic-level conditions". This is seen as a sign that shipping lines believe that the current difficult period will last at least a few more months.

Mr. Jensen compared the standard average rental price for 2024, so far, the price from MB Shipbrokers is $32,000 for the 5,500 - 7,000 TEU segment.

Mr. Sand added: "All carriers fight for the same ships – either you buy, or you charter – and they are all scrambling for tonnage now. There is big money to be made, at the expense of shippers who get only to pay more and more for deteriorating service levels."

Meanwhile, Sealead, a shipping company headquartered in Singapore, announced a new service route directly connecting China and South Korea to California. The first sailing is scheduled to depart from June 16 on the route Nansha - Ningbo - Shanghai - Qingdao - Busan - Long Beach.

Consulting firm Alphaliner said: “This rotation is almost identical to that of a former transpacific loop launched by SeaLead in August 2021, during Covid, when spot ocean freight rates were soaring and cargo demand was very strong."

At the TOC Europe event in Rotterdam in June 2024, Mr. Jensen also said that the relaunch of these extra loaders was part of the same trend that has seen smaller carriers return to deepsea trades as spot rate levels soar.


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Source: (According to The LoadStar) - Vietnam's First International Logistics Marketplace

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