Pacific International Lines will start calling at the Port of Seattle in February.
PIL’s new will call at Terminal 30 in partnership with China Shipping Container Lines and United Arab Shipping Co’s existing joint service. The service will have the following port rotation: Nansha, China; Hong Kong; Yantian and Ningbo, China; Shanghai; Busan, South Korea; Seattle; Vancouver; Nansha.
The announcement is welcome news for the Port of Seattle, which reported a 16.5 percent year-over-year drop in its container volume from January through November 2013. Furthermore, Seattle lost 2.3 percentage points of total market share for major west coast ports in North America year-to-date through the third quarter from 2011 to 2013, from 7.6 percent to 5.3 percent. Comparatively, the ports of Tacoma and Vancouver increased their market shares by 1.5 percentage points and 0.6 percentage point respectively during the same period.
Overall, Pacific Northwest ports have been losing cargo to Southern California ports, largely because carriers are using their bigger ships to transport Asian imports into Southern California first and then picking up exports back to Asia out of Oakland. Seattle’s market share of North America's west coast container traffic was 5.3 percent in the first three quarters of 2013, dwarfed by market shares of 32.3 percent and 28.3 percent for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, respectively.
PIL, the 14th largest global container carrier, according to Alphaliner, is the second major container line in the past year to begin calling at Seattle, after the Washington port welcomed UASC to its harbor in May 2013, in partnership with CSCL. As of December 2013, PIL owns or operates a fleet of 193 vessels with a total capacity of 378,167 TEUs. The container line, No. 33 on JOC’s Top 40 Container Carriers for U.S. export trade lanes, is expecting another 13 container vessels of 51,100 TEUs, plus two new multi-purpose vessels, which will be delivered by December 2014.