Ocean carriers realign in EU-Asia trade lane

“The stage is thus set for the next struggle between carriers,” said analysts

By Patrick Burnson · January 24, 2012

The final pieces of the Far East-North Europe jigsaw are falling into place following last week’s confirmation by UASC that the carrier will expand its cooperation with CSCL and CMA CGM on the trade, effective from February.

According to the Paris-based consultancy, Alphaliner, active players in the Far East-North Europe trade have confirmed their respective plans for 2012, although some partnership details are still to be finalized.

“The stage is thus set for the next struggle between carriers,” said Alphaliner’s commercial director, Stephen Fletcher.

The Far East-North Europe partnership reshuffle of 2012 will see the most significant carrier re-alignment since 1996-1997, when the last major alliance restructuring took place, said analysts. By the end of June 2012, the new network configurations of the various carrier alliances should be fully implemented.

Until this point in time, the total weekly capacity on the trade is expected to rise by up to 14 percent (assuming all services are implemented as planned) compared to the capacity at the beginning of the year, and by up to 2.5 percent year-on-year, compared against the figure for June 2011, based on Alphaliner estimates.

“Carriers are however trying to dampen their capacity increases in the face of weakening demand, deferring some of the new capacity upgrades, pulling out the smaller loops and shifting some of the largest newbuildings to secondary trades,” said Fletcher.

This is illustrated, he added, by the planned assignment of several UASC 13,100 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) newbuildings to a Far East-Middle East loop operated jointly with CSCL and CMA CGM. This will be the first time that ships of over 10,000 TEU are deployed.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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