As part of a slot sharing agreement, seven container lines will cooperate on three existing Far East-to-Indian subcontinent services, effective in February 2014.
APL, Maersk Line, OOCL, CMA CGM, Emirates Shipping Line, Hamburg Süd and Regional Container Lines will employ 18 vessels with a total capacity of about 17,500 TEUs on the three services. The group will offer three sailings per week covering South Korea, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan, compared with one weekly sailing that is currently offered by each carrier.
“Our multi-carrier cooperation will provide more frequent sailings between Asia’s major trading hubs, and at the same time eliminate unnecessary service duplications,” the partner carriers said in a joint statement.
The new port rotations for the three services will be as follows:
- The north loop will be operated by CMA CGM and Maersk Line: Tianjin, Dalian and Qingdao, China; Kwangyang and Busan, South Korea; Ningbo, China; Hong Kong; Singapore; Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Pipavav and Nhava Sheva, India; Port Qasim, Pakistan; Singapore; and Tianjin.
- The central loop will be operated by Hamburg Süd, OOCL and Regional Container Lines: Shanghai; Ningbo; Xiamen, China; Hong Kong; Singapore; Colombo; Nhava Sheva; Pipavav; Port Klang, Malaysia; Singapore; Hong Kong; and Shanghai.
- The south loop will be operated by APL, Emirates Shipping Line and OOCL: Nansha and Chiwan, China; Hong Kong; Singapore; Colombo; Nhava Sheva; Pipavav; Colombo; Port Klang; Singapore; and Nansha.
Although APL is part of the G6 Alliance, and Maersk Line and CMA CGM are part of the planned P3 Network, the seven carriers in this slot-chartering agreement are consolidating their intra-Asia services in the face of sliding freight rates, overcapacity and the continued pressure to reduce operating costs.
Containerized rates in this trade lane have been steadily declining since 2012, according to data from Container Trades Statistics. In the Far East-to-Indian subcontinent and Middle East route, rates have fallen from the CTS index level of 122 in September 2012 to 98 in November 2013. In the opposite direction, rates have fallen from 112 in May 2012 to 79 in November 2013.
In terms of volume, containerized exports from the Far East to the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East recorded month-over-month declines from August through November 2013, following a spike of 31.7 percent in May. Exports from the Indian subcontinent and Middle East to the Far East saw more pronounced declines in volume, registering double-digit year-over-year drops in nine of the last 12 months.