Mediterranean Shipping Co is imposing an “equipment imbalance“ surcharge and “no-show” penalties on the North Europe-Asia route after rival Maersk Line stopped taking cargo bookings on eastbound sailings last week.
Effective Tuesday, the Geneva-based carrier is applying an imbalance surcharge of $100 per 20-foot and 40-foot container to all cargoes, including waste, on sailings from Northwest Europe, including U.K, Scandinavia and Russian Baltic ports.
MSC also implemented a no-show surcharge of $300 per 20-foot container and $600 per 40-footer, effective immediately.
MSC said the “extraordinary demand” for cargo space and equipment in North Europe has resulted in attempts by shippers to place “dummy” bookings, especially for “waste” cargoes. The carrier also is implementing a general rate increase of $100 per container, effective April 15.
Maersk’s decision to suspend bookings until early May could prove highly disruptive to eastbound shippers in Europe because the Danish carrier is the largest operator on the route, with a market share of 27 percent, according to container market analyst Alphaliner.
Maersk cited an unprecedented build-up of cargo in North European ports following a reduction of sailings after the Chinese New Year for its decision to turn away export containers.
“The decision to stop all bookings, as well as the duration of the suspension, is highly unusual as eastbound cargo volumes from Europe usually represent less than half of westbound volumes,” Alphaliner said.
Maersk’s space crunch was exacerbated when it withdrew its AE-8 service in February, cutting its weekly capacity by approximately 10 percent.
“While most carriers are reporting strong booking positions until April, none of Maersk’s competitors have ceased to take bookings on such a scale,” Alphaliner noted.
Some carriers have turned away selective bookings because of the sudden space shortage in the eastbound market.
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