CMA CGM has reassured North European shippers and forwarders it will inject new equipment and vessel capacity on its Asia-Europe services in an effort to clear the mounting backlog of unshipped cargo.

With shippers and forwarders frustrated by a severe lack of export containers in Asia, the French carrier said it would be receiving an unspecified number of newly leased containers during December and January.

It has also scrambled to secure equipment in Asia – offering shippers 20fts, 45fts and even the option of non-operating reefer units – as well as issuing a new requirement to Chinese importers to release equipment back to depots as fast as possible.

Meanwhile, to tackle the restitution of empty containers from Northern Europe, the line has made a number of extra calls, such as on the eastbound leg at the Moroccan port of Tangiers, where increasing numbers of empties are building up, as well as as the recent deployment of BG Freight Line feeder vessels to transport empties from the UK port of Portsmouth to Rotterdam.

In terms of its vessel fleet, CMA CGM is scheduled to take delivery of the final six LNG-powered 23,000 teu ULCVs during the first half of next year, which will replace smaller vessels operating on the trade.

The flagship of the series, the CMA CGM Jacques Saade, was delivered in September, with the CMA CGM Champs Elysées and CMA CGM Palais Royal joining its fleet in October and November.

With these newbuildings set to join the Ocean Alliance’s Asia-North Europe trades, known at CMA CGM as its FAL services, the carrier said its deployed capacity in the first quarter of 2021 would be 10% higher than in Q4 this year, and 25% higher year on year. Second-quarter 2021 capacity is expected to be 5% up on the first quarter.

It also said it would deploy the 3,700 teu Merkur Fjord as an extra loader from Asia to Europe at the end of December. The vessel is currently deployed on the joint CMA CGM-Maersk Asia-West Africa service.

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