Antong ship – credit Mojuan Chen
Credit Mojuan Chen.

China’s second-largest domestic liner operator, Quanzhou Ansheng Shipping, has assigned 12 ships of over 20,000 teu to the transpacific and Asia-Europe trades, in collaboration with compatriot China United Lines (CULines).

Ansheng’s holding company, Antong Holdings, announced the move during the release of the group’s H1 22 results on Friday and follows a co-operation agreement with CULines signed in May.

Antong became state-controlled after a government-led bailout in 2020, after unauthorised guarantees issued by the previous management plunged the group into a financial crisis.

On its entry into the long-haul trades, Antong said: “CULines has more experience in overseas shipping routes and, by co-operating and integrating our resources, the Antong group can improve its operational efficiency and profitability.”

Originally an NVOCC, CULines began intra-Asia liner services on chartered vessels, but expanded its fleet with two second-hand ships and ventured into the transpacific and Asia-Europe tradelanes last year, as freight rates soared.

Antong’s relatively higher proportion of owned ships benefits CULines as it means both can manage charter costs, which remain high.

Ansheng, the 21st-ranked liner operator, has shipping capacity of 88,039 teu, including 42 owned ships of 59,507 teu. In comparison, CULines, ranked 23rd, owns just six vessels of 11,355 teu, chartering 27 others of 71,718 teu.

In H1 22, Ansheng handled 5.86m teu from its core coastal routes, down nearly 12% from H1 21 as volumes fell following the Shanghai lockdown from March to June.

However, freight rates were higher, resulting in revenue rising 40% to Rmb4.37bn ($688.19m), and net profits more than trebled to Rmb1.16bn ($182.68m).

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