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Geodis is the latest forwarder to charter capacity out of China amid continuing “chaos” for Asia-Europe container shippers.
The forwarder has chartered a 1,000 teu vessel for a direct sailing from Shanghai to Hamburg, departing 20 January.
“We understand the challenges and work hard to support unprecedented customer demand against challenging market conditions,” Geodis said. “Hence, a vessel is chartered to supplement fixed long term agreements with core carriers … and to deliver certainty amid chaos.”
The move follows DSV’s announcement last month it was taking the “extraordinary” step of chartering three multipurpose vessels in December from Shanghai to the Danish port of Aarhus.
DSV said it was a one-off deal to beat the Asia-Europe capacity crunch that had left customers “in dire need” of capacity.
Matthias Hansen, senior VP for global ocean freight at Geodis, told The Loadstar the forwarder’s chartered vessel would carry 460 40ft containers.
“We started to work some time ago to secure the equipment to ensure that the containers would be available when we needed them, and offer this solution to all our customers who need to move cargo from Asia to Europe,” exxplained Mr Hansen.
For Europe’s importers, there’s been no let up to the non-stop freight rate escalation that capped-off the end of 2020. The Loadstar reported last week how major forwarders were engaged in “bidding wars” in China to secure equipment and space to North Europe, with successful all-in bids reaching a “minimum” of $16,000 per 40ft H/C.
However, whether the small crop of forwarders dipping their toes into the charter market can secure a cheaper rate per box remains to be seen. Securing a vessel in a “booming” charter market won’t be cheap – Alphaliner’s charter index was up 46% year on year last month.
One shipping consultant said: “The problem with these small, effectively feeder-vessels is that the actual intake will be somewhat less, due to stability. The master will have a fit when he sees the booking list and it’s all 40ft high-cubes at more or less the same weight.”
In DSV’s case, at least, the charter decision was based on securing space and shorter transit times, rather than to save on costs, and similarly, Geodis said its main target was to enable customers to ship on time in “a reasonably economic manner”.
Mr Hansen added: “Geodis is permanently looking for solutions and complimentary ocean and air products. The current freight level on the Far East westbound trade supports these charter investments.”