Container mega alliances with 10% blank sailings in Asia-Europe trade

Container mega alliances with 10% blank sailings in Asia-Europe trade
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Asia-Europe mega-alliance loops are still facing a significant capacity shortage, as reported on Friday, May 10th. Despite the addition of 1.14 million twenty-foot equivalent units (Mteu) of new capacity this year, the three mega-alliances require an extra 36 ships to fully operate their 25 Asia-Europe loops. With the average vessel size standing at 14,150 twenty-foot equivalent units (teu), an additional 509,400 slots are needed, accounting for 9.6% of the total capacity required for weekly sailings.

Alphaliner’s data indicates that 376 ships are currently necessary for 25 loops, compared to 321 for 27 loops a year ago. This shortage is exacerbated by 24 loops being rerouted via the Cape of Good Hope due to the Red Sea crisis. Notably, the recent closure of the third Asia-North Europe loop of the Ocean Alliance, jointly operated by OOCL and COSCO SHIPPING Lines, has freed up twelve ships for redeployment. Additionally, the suspension of the Southeast Asia-North Europe loop in November 2023 released another ten ships.

Alphaliner’s count on May 10th revealed 340 container ships sailing in the Asia-Europe services of the Ocean Alliance, the 2M Vessel Sharing Agreement, or THE Alliance, indicating an average of 9.6% of weekly sailings being skipped. Particularly, the Ocean Alliance members are facing challenges, with 120 vessels deployed but still needing an additional 20 ships.

One consequence of rerouting ships via the Cape of Good Hope is the elimination of wayport calls at Mediterranean ports, leading to a capacity shift within the Ocean Alliance fleet. Megamax vessels have been relocated from North European loops to the joint Asia Med service, impacting services like the Far East-North Europe loop.

However, carriers like ONE and Hapag-Lloyd, receiving new tonnage in recent months, are in a more favorable position. THE Alliance currently operates 102 ships between Asia and Europe, with only eight ships missing. Hapag-Lloyd’s phasing in of newbuildings into the FE3 fleet indicates a strategic adjustment to alleviate shortages.

MSC’s fleet expansion has significantly contributed to maintaining nearly complete staffing for the 2M VSA-fleet and fully staffing standalone loops like the Far East-North Europe ‘Swan’ and Asia-Med ‘Dragon’ loops. With thirteen neo-panamax ships delivered this year, MSC’s expansion efforts have had a notable impact on the overall capacity situation.

Source: Alphaliner

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