Cape Hellas
Photo: VesselFinder

UK-based container line Ellerman City Liners is making a temporary return to the Asia-Europe trade, announcing two summer sailings that will offer a fresh injection of capacity to UK importers.

In a move reminiscent of the pandemic, when after a series of ad hoc charter sailings Ellerman launched a scheduled weekly China-UK express service in 2022, chiefly between Da Chan and Tilbury, the company announced this week it would revive the service in June and July.

“This new route will see two vessels making two voyages to and from Ningbo and Da Chan Bay, to Casablanca into Tilbury,” said the company.

The 2,700 teu Cape Hellas is scheduled to depart Ningbo on 16 June, calling at Da Chan Bay and Casablanca and arriving at Tilbury on 26 July.

The 2,400 teu Buxfavourite is scheduled to depart Ningbo on 11 July, arriving Tilbury on 21 August.

The carrier added that it would be offering transhipment options for Asian export cargo bound for Cadiz, Bilbao, Setubal, Aveiro, Teesport and Gdynia over Tilbury, which is the hub for Ellerman’s UK-Iberia INEX and UK-Poland IPEX own shortsea services.

“For the time being, the two voyages seem to be opportunistic one-off trips, rather than a full re-boot of a service Ellerman offered until 2023,” liner shipping analyst Alphaliner wrote this week.

“UK-based forwarding group Uniserve, in December 2021, launched its own China-North Europe GB Express service. At the time, its maritime freight division UniOcean found it challenging to access capacity in a sold-out liner market and thus decided to start a niche liner operation of its own.”

The trade appears to be returning to a similar scenario today, with high demand and tight space, rapidly rising freight rates and an impending peak season.

Ellerman Lines was founded as a cargo and passenger shipping company by Sir John Ellerman in 1892, but like many traditional shipping names, its fortunes declined with the advent of containerisation. After incurring serious losses in the 1980s, ownership changed hands several times, eventually to Hamburg Süd, which put the Ellerman name out to pasture in 2003.

In late 2021, the brand was revived by Uniserve chairman Iain Liddell, who began his career as a shipping clerk at the original Ellerman, before establishing Uniserve in 1984.

Ellerman also offers an transatlantic service in cooperation with MSC.

Comment on this article

You must be logged in to post a comment.