TS Melbourne
Photo: VesselFinder

Taiwanese regional carrier TS Lines will join SeaLead Shipping’s relaunched Asia-US West Coast (AWC) service, marking its comeback to long-haul trades.

Dubai-based SeaLead’s spokesperson told The Loadstar TS Lines would assign its two 2,900 teu vessels, TS Melbourne and TS Tacoma, to the AWC, which was relaunched on 17 June.

The start of the deployments has yet to be confirmed – according to the eeSea liner database, TS Tacoma is deployed on a Korea-China-Malaysia intra-Asia service, while TS Melbourne is serving an Asia-Middle East service.

TS Lines, founded by Chen Te-sheng, hopes to list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and, in a new prospectus submitted in May, said it planned to re-enter long-haul lanes now freight rates were seeing another renaissance.

The company’s core focus is intra-Asia, but it ventured into long-haul during the Covid-induced boom in early 2022 with transpacific and Far East-Australia/New Zealand services. But it backtracked when the market corrected.

To become more competitive on long-haul, TS Lines has ordered two 14,000 teu ships from Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding for delivery around 2027.

Its re-entry to the transpacific coincides with mainline operators rushing to add capacity, particularly to the US west coast where spot rates have now risen five-fold, year on year. On Friday, the Shanghai-US west coast rate stood at $7,830 per 40ft.

MSC is reactivating its Mustang service, connecting Yantian, Ningbo, Shanghai and Long Beach, and is upsizing the first sailing on 14 July, from the 16,616 teu MSC Lella to the 19,462 teu MSC Eloane. Launched in October 2021, Mustang was withdrawn in June 2022.

EconDB’s vessel-tracking data indicates that MSC Eloane will be transferred from MSC’s Asia-North Europe Griffin service and is due to arrive in Malaysia’s Tanjung Pelepas port on Friday.

Consultancy Linerlytica said: “The use of such a large ship on an inaugural sailing is unprecedented, a further indication of the strength of transpacific demand.”

And Zim today launches its new Central China Xpress (ZX2) service, connecting Shanghai, Ningbo and Los Angeles, deploying five 4,200 teu vessels. ZX2 will turn in 35 days and offers a 13-day transit between Ningbo and Los Angeles, comparable with the fastest transpacific services operated by Matson and APL/CMA CGM. Zim had operated two ad hoc loaders on what would be the ZX2 rotation in June.

Zim will also revamp its eCommerce Xpress (ZEX) service with a new call at Vietnam’s Cai Mep port from 16 July, its new rotation being Cai Mep-Yantian-Los Angeles. It will turn in 42 days and will deploy six ships of 4,200-5,500 teu. The service previously offered calls at Cai Lan in North Vietnam, which will be dropped.

The ZX2 and ZEX services have caused Zim to suspend its Pacific Northwest Xpress (ZPX) service that called at Cai Mep, Yantian, Kaohsiung, Xiamen, Ningbo, Shanghai, Vancouver, Busan, and Cai Mep.

Meanwhile, tomorrow, French carrier CMA CGM will start its TGX ad hoc Shanghai-Los Angeles shuttle sailing, with the 2,192 teu Orea departing Shanghai. Nine sailings are planned between this month and October, to meet the traditional Q3 peak season demand.

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