The Ocean Alliance has been “fine-tuning” its Day 4 product east-west trade network.

Changes, scheduled for April, appear to be minimal, but the capacity deployed is expected to increase with the arrival of new ULCVs.

In a notice to customers yesterday, Cosco subsidiary OOCL said it had been “working very closely” with its Ocean Alliance partners on “fine-tuning adjustments”.

Alphaliner said the new offering from the alliance partners, CMA CGM, Cosco (including OOCL) and Evergreen, was “very similar” to the current  Day 3 product, the main change being the closing of an Asia to East Mediterranean string, reducing the number of loops on the route from five to four.

The service was launched in April 2017 as part of the Ocean Alliance’s Day 1 product and will cease on 24 January after the sailing from Qingdao of the 5,364 teu Ever Useful.

Meanwhile, on the Asia to North Europe trade, Hamburg is being dropped at the expense of Antwerp on the NEU5/FAL3 Asia-North Europe loop, which will be a blow for the German port that had been clawing back business lost to Benelux ports during years of inertia over the river Elbe deepening consultations.

The Ocean Alliance says the capacity deployed on the revised network will be the same as in Day 3 – 3.8m teu – however, Alphaliner said the partners were expected to increase capacity on several of their services following the delivery of newbuild ULCVs and other large tonnage this year.

“CMA CGM is expected to deploy all nine LNG-powered 23,112 teu ships on the flagship FAL1 (NEU4) Asia-North Europe service, starting from June,” said the consultant.

“These ships will join three 20,954 teu units and gradually replace the other nine ships, of 15,000-17,800 teu. The total capacity of the service will be increased from 17,600 teu to 22,500 teu once all the new ships are delivered by the first quarter of 2021,” said Alphaliner.

CMA CGM has an orderbook of 30 ships with a total capacity of 468,000 teu. And, according to the consultant, Evergreen, which has the largest orderbook of all the top-ranked carriers at a massive 555,000 teu (68 ships), is expected to phase-in ten 12,000 teu units this year onto the Asia-US east coast tradelane, raising the average capacity on the alliance’s AUE/AWE2 loop from 10,000 teu to 12,000 teu.

“These changes are expected to trigger vessel cascading programmes that will see smaller ships of 5,000-7,000 teu currently deployed on various [Ocean Alliance] routes replaced by larger ships,” said Alphaliner.

The Loadstar understand that rival alliances 2M and THE, will shortly be unveiling their revised networks.

The 2M will need to phase-in some 300,000 teu of newbuild tonnage, of which 250,000 teu will be contributed by MSC, while THE Alliance, which will see HMM join as a full member on 1 April, will begin to accommodate the South Korean carrier’s 12 24,000 teu newbuild ULCVs stemmed for delivery from May.

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