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CMA CGM changes Caribbean-Asia direction to bypass Panama Canal

Marseilles:  Avoiding the Suez Canal by sailing round the Cape of Good Hope has become a common tactic to save transit fees and absorb excess tonnage in the current cargo slowdown but now CMA CGM has decided to bypass the Panama Canal on the homebound leg of its PEX2 service linking Asia to the Caribbean and sail east around Africa.

The PEX 2 service currently employs nine vessels of 4,000teu - eight from CMA CGM and one from China Shipping. The French carrier will add an extra vessel when the homebound leg changes direction this week, but will still achieve considerable savings given the approximate $350,000 cost of a Panama Canal transit for a vessel this size.

"It is a measure of pressure to force the [canal authority] to freeze the toll increase scheduled for May which it will not do do," commented one Canal observer.

PEX 2 revised port rotation eastbound from Trinidad now reads Port of Spain, Keelung (optional), Hong Kong, Kaohsiung, Ningbo, Chiwan, Shanghai and Pusan. Then it crosses the Pacific to call at Ensenada, Manzanillo (Mexico), Panama Canal, Manzanillo (Panama), Kingston, Caucedo, Puerto Cabello, Port of Spain, and then east to Africa. The Port of Manzanillo, Panama, is dropped from the end of the PEX2 rotation before the eastbound leg to Africa.  [16/02/09]

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