Vietnam’s ambitious Cai Mep container port is losing its appeal to ocean carriers, according to Alphaliner, as lower-than-expected cargo volumes have cut the number of weekly direct line-haul services to only eight from a peak of 15 just a year ago.
Two of the five existing terminals at Ho Chi Minh City’s satellite port – operated by Singapore’s PSA International and Hong Kong’s Hutchison Ports – are currently left without any regular vessel calls, the container market analyst said.
When Cai Mep opened in 2009, ocean carriers rushed to introduce direct connections with the U.S. and Europe as the port offered the first direct access to Vietnam for ships of more than 3,000 20-foot equivalent units.
But interest has waned with disappointing trade flows, leaving the terminals with seven intercontinental and one intra-Asia line-haul service.
Overcapacity is set to increase with three more terminals scheduled to open in Cai Mep over the next three years, Alphaliner notes.
France’s CMA CGM is the latest carrier to drop Cai Mep calls as it removed the port from its Asia-Europe FAL3 loop last week in favor of a new Pearl River Delta call at Yantian, China.
The 11,000- to 11,400-TEU ships deployed on the FAL 3 service were the biggest vessels calling at Cai Mep, and it was the only CMA CGM service offering a direct Vietnam-Europe link. The service will be replaced temporarily by feeder connections at Singapore.
Other carriers that have pulled direct services to and from Cai Mep include Zim Integrated Shipping Services, CSAV and APL.
Cai Mep International Terminal is the most successful terminal with traffic expected to hit 600,000 containers in 2012, capturing a 50 percent market share in its first full year of operation. The terminal, which is 49 percent owned by A.P. Moller-Maersk’s APM Terminals, has an annual capacity of 1.1 million TEUs.
The terminal’s commercial director last week called for “assistance” from the government to make Cai Mep more competitive with its southeast rivals to attract transshipment traffic to soak up the port’s unused capacity.
Contact Bruce Barnard at email@example.com.