Yellow Freight System Inc. said that it will launch less-than-containerload ocean service to and from Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore in October.

In early 1996, the service will be expanded to China, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia. Air service to most of the same countries also will commence in 1996.Service to China, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, India and the United Arab Emirates will be added in late 1996 and early 1997, the company said.

With its three strategic partners - AWT World Transport in Hong Kong, Springboard in Thailand and Thong Soon in Singapore - Yellow will offer initial ocean service to and from North America using the Port of Long Beach, Calif. Additional U.S. ports will be added as shipments increase.

Sailings to Hong Kong and Bangkok, Thailand, will be on Sundays, and sailings to Singapore will be on Thursdays. Sailings from Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore also will be available on Thursdays.

For exports, Yellow will use Maersk Inc. Imports will be at the discretion of Yellow's partners, but they will generally use Cho Yang Line out of Singapore, Hanjin Shipping Co. out of Thailand and Orient Overseas Container Line out of Hong Kong, according to Roger Dick, spokesman for Yellow.

"For much too long now, international shipping has been unnecessarily perceived as mysterious and difficult. Our trans-Pacific offering destroys that myth by giving our customers the convenience and time-definite reliability they've been asking for," said Doug Fisher, vice president of international operations.

Each of Yellow's strategic partners will be responsible for pickup and delivery of freight in their respective countries, including loading and unloading of containers.

Yellow and its partners will provide necessary freight forwarding services for customers, securing the necessary paperwork to meet export and import requirements. Complete in-house brokerage services are offered from Yellow's International Documentation Center.

Yellow's Asia/Pacific service will focus primarily on LCL shipments ranging between 500 and 20,000 pounds. Door-to-door transit time standards will reflect time from the pickup point to delivery to the consignee's place of business.

Yellow's Asia/Pacific service expands on the service it already offers to and from Western Europe through an alliance with Royal Frans Maas of the Netherlands. The European import/export service was launched in September 1992.

The move to broaden international service puts Yellow in a position to compete for business in one of the most rapidly growing segments of LTL/LCL shipping, said Mr. Fisher. He said that since 1985, import and export trade has grown from 18 percent to more than 25 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. He observed that for the remainder of this decade, GDP growth rate projections are greatest for the Pacific Rim and Western Europe.

Yellow Freight System provides transportation and distribution solutions for businesses throughout North America, Europe and the Pacific Rim, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Yellow Corp., based in Overland Park, Kan. It employs approximately 25,700 people.