Maersk drops feeder services to 10 Chinese ports

Feeder services from second- and third-tier Chinese ports have become more important with the arrival of the megaships Maersk Line will end feeder services to 10 ports in China from Sept. 1 as the carrier adjusts its inland river connections.A statement from Maersk Line said the China port cuts should not be interpreted as change of strategy, and were a normal adjustment of intermodal services the carrier provided. “The impact is minimal, as the customers can always choose to use adjacent ports that we have service or move the cargo via merchant haulage," said a Maersk Line spokesperson. Feeder services will be discontinued from the following ports with the suggested alternatives for shippers in brackets: Chizhou (Anqing or Tonglong), Luzhou (Chongqing), Yingkou (Dalian), Jinzhou (Dalian), Rizhao (Qingdao), Yueyang (Changsha), Lijiao (Huangpu), Taiping (Shatian), Jiaoxin (Huangpu) and Nansha Old Port (Nansha New Port).Feeder services from second- and third-tier Chinese ports have become more important with the arrival of the mega-ships that have until recently been deployed primarily on the Asia-Europe trade. In May, the 2M Alliance announced it would cut the number of direct port calls across their Asia-North Europe network to eliminate overlapping port pairs in a move to better deploy their mega-ships on the trade. “We are utilizing our scale to deliver a better product,” Vincent Clerc, Maersk Line chief commercial officer, said at the time. “With the largest network and the deployment of an increasingly uniform fleet of ultra-large container vessels, we maintain our extensive direct coverage while focusing each service towards best in class transit times to specific markets on the trade.” But it is not only AsiaEurope where liners are deploying the big ships. Shipping lines are determined to increase the size of vessels calling in the Pacific Northwest in order to benefit from the low per-unit slot costs afforded by big ships. All ports in their transPacific services receive weekly calls with vessels with capacities ranging from 6,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units to 8,000 TEUs, but Seattle earlier this year received a test call from the 18,000-TEU CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, the largest vessel ever to call at a North American port. With freight rates at stubbornly low levels, container lines are aggressively seeking cost savings by optimizing networks, cutting strings and omitting ports, a drive that is being helped by cheap bunker prices. Maersk Line will release its second-quarter results this week and they are expected to reflect plunging revenue per TEU. Drewry expects the carrier to lose $57 million in the second quarter after posting a $37 million first-quarter profit that new group CEO Soren Skou called a “break-even result.” Source : The Journal of Commerce

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