The Port of New Orleans has attracted its second direct Asia container service, adding momentum to cargo growth that spiked nearly 11 percent in the first half of the year.
The new call, on a weekly service operated by 2M Alliance partners Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co., and Zim Integrated Shipping Services, provides shippers with an option to an existing service — operated by the Ocean Alliance — that links China, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore to New Orleans, Houston, Mobile, Tampa, and Miami.
The first vessel on the new service, the 6,750 TEU MSC Vanessa, left Ningbo in August, Maersk told customers Monday. The service, which is branded as TP18 by Maersk and goes through the Panama Canal, includes calls at Ningbo, Shanghai, Busan, Houston, Mobile, Miami, Freeport, and Balboa.
“The new service further strengthens New Orleans’ direct connectivity with Far East markets and offers more options to our customers,” said Brandy D. Christian, the port’s CEO.
The port said it anticipates the new service will appeal to resin producers and importers of furniture and other retail goods. The relatively fast transit time of 32 days to Busan could also attract shippers of temperature sensitive goods, such as frozen poultry, the port said.
Cargo volumes through New Orleans increased 10.8 percent in the first six months of 2018, to 218,155 loaded TEU, over the same period in 2018, according to PIERS, a sister product of JOC.com within IHS Markit. Volumes fell 2.1 percent in 2018, to 399,550 loaded TEU, over the year before, as exports fell but imports increased 12.1 percent. Cargo through the Gulf Coast as a whole increased 7.8 percent last year, the figures show.
New Orleans’ trade with Asia grew 18.3 percent in 2018, to 70,526 loaded TEU, over 2017, the PIERS figures show. Asian trade accounted for 17.6 percent of all the cargo that came into the Port of New Orleans last year.
The port is looking to increase capacity from 840,000 TEU to 1.5 million TEU, with an upgrade of its existing terminal and the construction of a new one.
CMA CGM, a member of the Ocean Alliance, scheduled the first call at New Orleans for an Asian route, adding the port to its PEX3 service in February 2017.