Competition heating up on Asia-Hawaii trade

Competition heating up on Asia-Hawaii trade

Matson is a niche player in the trans-Pacific trade.

Fierce competition is coming to the Asia-Hawaii segment of the trans-Pacific trade with Japanese carrier NYK announcing it will increase the frequency of its Asia-Hawaii services just days after APL unveiled the launch of a new direct Honolulu service from North Asia.

NYK will increase the sailings of its Asia Hawaii Express (AHX) service from fortnightly to weekly from July 15, Alphaliner said. The AHX rotation is Shanghai, Busan, Yokohama, Honolulu, Yokohama, Shanghai and while it currently turns in six weeks, this will be cut to five weeks in July. Two 700 to 750 TEU ships will be added to the current three chartered ships of 1,200 to 1,400 TEU.

The weekly sailing by NYK follows CMA CGM subsidiary APL’s plans to start a new fortnightly service on July 25 that directly connects central China, Korea, and Japan to the Hawaiian market and allows shippers to avoid routing cargo via the US mainland.

The Aloha Express (AEX) takes APL’s services on the trans-Pacific to 23, 18 of which are offered under the Ocean Alliance and five outside the vessel sharing agreement. APL’s Guam Saipan Express (GSX) service also calls at the ports of Busan, Yokohama, Guam, and Saipan every week.

“The AEX service introduces a new sea route in our portfolio to directly serve Asia and Hawaii. Instead of routing via the US mainland, shippers with Hawaiian-bound cargo will find a faster shipping alternative in the AEX service,” said Jesper Stenbak, APL senior vice president of trans-Pacific trade.

AEX will deploy three ships of 700 to 1,000 TEU, with the first sailing from Shanghai of the 990 TEU APL Aloha scheduled for July 25.

Alphaliner said the Aloha Express will add a third direct connection on the niche Asia-Hawaii market, adding to the AHX and to Matson's China-Long Beach Express (CLX) services. The US-flag domestic service from the West Coast to Hawaii and Guam continues on to China. After calling Xiamen, Ningbo, and Shanghai, Matson’s expedited service arrives in Long Beach after 10 days.

However, the CLX only serves the Hawaii-Asia market in the westbound direction on its return leg from the United States to China, with China-Hawaii eastbound containers doing first the full China-US trip and then the US-Hawaii segment. Also, the CLX does not call in Korea and Japan.

Matson also operates the South Pacific Express (SPE) service to Samoa from the US West Coast — where it deployed a new and larger vessel recently.

Contact Greg Knowler at and follow him on Twitter: @greg_knowler.