CMA CGM thinks the supply of vessel capacity on the trans-Pacific this year needs to be expanded to meet growing demand in both directions, so it and its partners in several trans-Pacific vessel sharing alliances, Maersk line and Mediterranean Shipping Co., are upgrading their joint services.
"We expect growth in demand of 7 to 8 percent in the trans-Pacific trade this year and the supply (of capacity) will be more or less in the same range," said Jean-Philippe Thenoz, CMA CGM's senior vice-president of North America Lines.
He said the carrier's electronics customers are expecting double-digit growth in imports, and retailers are generally forecasting volume growth of 5 to 6 percent. But he said the forecasts vary from customer to customer. "The volumes are huge, so we are optimistic," he said.
Equally important, he said, is the growth of U.S. retail exports to Asia, in part because of the weak dollar, but also because of growing Asian demand.
Thenoz said CMA CGM's studies show that the trans-Pacific trade does not face a problem with overcapacity this year because the very large containerships that are scheduled for delivery cannot be deployed on the trade "because the infrastructure of the ports does not permit it. Companies cannot put into this trade ships with big tonnages."
CMA CGM and its two partners have been discussing the "re-engineering" of their VSAs for the last two months to meet the growth in demand.
As a result, CMA CGM and its two partners are introducing what the French line calls the Hangzhou Shuttle with five vessels of 6,000 20-foot equivalent units apiece, providing direct service between Ningbo, Shanghai and Los Angeles.
CMA CGM is part of the VSA it calls the Yang Tse service, which MSC operates and Maersk calls the TP2 service. The service will deploy six 8,000-TEU ships connecting Kaohsiung, Hong Kong, Yantian, Xiamen, and Ningbo with Long Beach and Oakland.
The Bohai Rim service, which Maersk calls the TP8, will be operated with six 8,000-TEU vessels connecting Dalian, Tianjin Xinqang, Qingdao and Shanghai with Long Beach and Oakland.
The Sunrise service, which Maersk calls the TP5, will be operated by Maersk with five 4,500-TEU ships on the following port rotations: Kwangyang, Pusan, Hakata, Nagoya, Yokohama, Los Angeles, Oakland, Yokohama, Kobe and back to Kwangyang.
-- Contact Peter T. Leach at email@example.com.