The South Korean government has again stepped in to initiate “extra loader” sailings to ensure that the country’s exporters have sufficient container shipping slots amid the current capacity crunch.

On Friday, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced support measures to prepare flag-carrier HMM and domestic feeder operators for rising freight costs caused by liner operators rerouting around the Cape of Good Hope, a situation coinciding with the peak season.

Listen to this clip from The Loadstar Podcast to hear Peter Sundara Swamickannu, Head of Global Ocean Freight Product, Visy Global Logistics, talking to host Mike King about whether we are in an early peak season or the foothills of a huge Q3:

This month and next, HMM will deploy three 9,000 teu ships on transpacific routes and to the Persian Gulf. Then, until November, five 13,000 teu ships and two 1,800 teu vessels will be deployed on additional ad hoc sailings.

HMM will also assign seven new 10,000 teu ships to its major routes, with 1,685 teu vessels to be used exclusively for SMEs to move their goods to South-east Asia.

And, to reduce the burden of freight costs for the SMEs, and to support their cash flow, subsidies amounting to KRW20.2bn ($15m) will be disbursed, with additional support to be reviewed if necessary.

A temporary container depot will be set up near Busan New Port, offering storage of up to 700 teu, at rates cheaper than standard prices.

The ministry explained: “In order to closely monitor trends and respond quickly, we will continue to operate the export/import logistics emergency response team, and provide information through Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency.”

South Korea is not alone in planning unscheduled services. CMA CGM is offering extra Asia-Europe sailings between the end of this month and early September, according to Alphaliner. The French carrier will deploy seven 7,000 teu ships, but the so-called “French peak service” sailings are targeted at French shippers that are finding it hard to secure slots”.

Linerlytica also noted a recent string of extra loader sailings from Asia aimed at the Pacific south-west, which could increase congestion along the US west coast in the coming weeks.

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