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More of the newcomers to the long-haul container shipping routes have exited the transpacific and Asia-Europe lanes.
According to consultancy Linerlytica, Transfar Shipping, BAL Container Line and container maker China International Marine Containers (CIMC), which started a China-US west coast service in 2021, have withdrawn from the long-haul lane.
Official comment from Transfar was not forthcoming, but The Loadstar has seen email correspondence with a shipper that stated that Transfar had withdrawn from the Asia-US east coast leg, but asserted the company was still offering Asia-USWC services.
Checks of vessel databases show that all but one of Transfar’s owned ships have been chartered to other operators: the 2,872 teu Windswept to Ellerman City Liners and two 1,800 teu ships, Cat Lai Express and A Goryu, to Hapag-Lloyd.
Four panamax boxships Transfar initially fixed from Zhonggu Logistics are understood to have been moved to Safetrans Logistics, a start-up engaged in China-Russia shipping services.
BAL Container Line’s holding company, LC Logistics, on 5 May submitted an updated prospectus pertaining to its listing application on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, stating net profit dipped year on year in 2022 to $56m, as volumes regressed to 355,363 teu from 380,269 teu in 2021. Operating costs also went up.
BAL was originally an NVOCC focusing on intra-Asia, but like others, was enticed into the transpacific and Asia-Europe trades in 2021 by historically high freight rates. In June 2022, BAL signed a 12-month slot-charter agreement with Transfar’s service between China and the US west coast and Mexico.
However, parent LC Logistics said the carrier had retreated from the Asia-Europe route in 2022, citing its weaker competitiveness as the reason. LC said: “We did not operate any China-Europe routes in 2022 due to the longer sailing schedules of seaborne transport to Europe, and so we could concentrate our resources on destinations in Americas, Australia and Asia, considering their higher market demand.”
The Loadstar attempted to contact BAL’s US agency, Norton Lilly, to enquire if the company was still operating transpacific services, but did not get a reply.
BAL’s four owned ships appear to have been chartered-out to other operators, such as Wan Hai and Evergreen, while vessels chartered to operate its transpacific services have been redelivered. The carrier also has two 14,700 teu ships on order at Jiangnan Shipyard for delivery in 2025.
As the freight market reverts to pre-Covid levels, many opportunistic shipping lines have exited the now loss-making long-haul trades. In February, The Loadstar reported that TS Lines had called time on its Asia-Europe, Asia-USEC and China-Canada services.
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