The Grand Alliance, which already has a vessel-sharing agreement with Zim Integrated Shipping Services on its Atlantic Express Service (ATX), agreed to charter slots in the service to Hamburg Süd as a way of reducing capacity in the face of declining trans-Atlantic volume.
Under the agreement Hamburg Süd will initially charter slots in the service for its customers’ containers, but may provide a vessel to the service at a later stage.
Hamburg Süd said the decision was triggered by "fast-declining volume and revenue levels in the trans-Atlantic which could no longer justify adding further tonnage to an already greatly overtonnaged trade."
It said that in view of “rapidly deteriorating market conditions” on the trans-Atlantic, it has decided to indefinitely suspend its announced standalone service and replace it by participating in the ATX service.
The Hamburg-based shipping group said it hopes that the capacity reduction will contribute to improve the balance of supply and demand in the trade.
Over the last six months trans-Atlantic carriers have been cutting capacity through such VSAs and by combining services, but they have not resorted to the kind of wholesale reduction in services or layups of ships that they have on the Asia-Europe trade, where they had cut capacity by 26 percent by March.
The trans-Atlantic trade is more in balance than the other major east-west trades and has not declined in volume by as much as with the Asia-Europe or trans-Pacific trades.
The ATX service is currently operated by Grand Alliance members Hapag-Lloyd, NYK and OOCL together with ZIM. The ATX port rotation will remain the same: Rotterdam, Hamburg, Le Havre, Southampton, New York, Norfolk, Charleston and back to Rotterdam.
The fourth Grand Alliance member, MISC Berhad, does not operate on this trade and is not a part of this agreement.
The agreement is still subject to FMC approval which is expected to be received by mid-June.
Contact Peter T. Leach at email@example.com .