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UASC mega-boxship pumps yet more capacity into Asia-Europe trades

UASC mega-boxship pumps yet more capacity into Asia-Europe trades
The launch of the first of United Arab Shipping Company’s (UASC) 18,800-teu container ships marks its continued expansion into the ultra large containership (ULCS) arena bringing it in line with its partners in the Ocean Three alliance.

The vessel is set to join the Asia-North Europe trade and once the remaining five ships in the A18 class are delivered will form the basis of another string with China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL), said president and ceo Jorn Hinge.

CSCL has five 19,100-teu ULCS on order, with two already delivered. The third partner in the alliance CMA CGM meanwhile has just placed an order for three 20,600-teu ships at Hanjin Heavy Industries for delivery in 2017 and already operates three 16,000-teu vessels which for a brief moment enjoyed the status of the largest container vessels afloat.

As a result, the older 13,500-teu (A13 class) vessels will be cascaded into other trades. These will be mainly in the South America trades that UASC is starting to cooperate with since earlier this year after its agreement with Hamburg Sud last year, said cto Lars Christiansen.

Christiansen was coy about what network changes may be made as a result of the new vessels but confirmed that any cascading would not be going into the intra-Asia trades in the medium term at least. Noting that these trades are very diverse and fragmented, he added “commercially we are in no rush to be there”.

Hinge also pointed out that the line would be busy consolidating its cooperation with Hamburg Sud. While not ruling out a foray into the intra-Asia trades he said UASC would take some time to digest this before thinking about other trade lanes.

On rates for the upcoming peak season, cco Uffe Ostergaard said there is a lot of pent-up demand in Europe and this bodes well for volumes. He added that he believed rates will go up this year, however admitted that it may only be mid-May before another rate rise can be implemented, giving the dates of the next general rate increase (GRI) as likely to be around 8 May to 10 May.