APL will begin phasing out its U.S. fleet of container chassis during the first half of 2012.
The Singapore-based carrier is the last of the top container lines to announce that it will end its long-standing practice of providing chassis for merchant haulage from ports to retail stores and distribution centers.
APL, the world’s sixth largest container line, had refrained from joining other carriers in getting out of the chassis business because it was reluctant to abandon its brand image as a full-service carrier that catered to all the needs of its shippers.
But in the end, the need to reduce costs at a time when almost all carriers are operating at a loss overcame APL’s reluctance. In recent years most carriers have divested their fleets to cut costs and create chassis pools that improve equipment availability.
“This is the direction [in which] the container shipping industry is moving,” said APL Americas President Gene Seroka from the company’s U.S. headquarters in Scottsdale. “By relying on providers who specialize in chassis management, equipment is deployed more efficiently.”
APL said it expects to complete divestiture of the fleet by 2014. It will turn its fleet over to organizations that specialize in providing chassis to drayage companies.
APL began notifying customers of the change this week. The carrier said divestiture will begin with a pilot program at terminals in Denver and Salt Lake City, possibly beginning as soon as March. Chassis fleets will be phased out of most APL inland terminals by the end of 2012.
Divestiture will extend to East Coast sea ports in 2013, APL said. It should be completed nationwide by early 2014.
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