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Scheduled third-quarter sailings sinking

Two space-sharing alliances already have canceled 75 voyages through September

Spacing-sharing alliances are canceling sailings scheduled throughout the third quarter of this year. (Photo: CMA CGM)

THE Alliance and 2M have canceled 75 sailings scheduled for the third quarter.

In a joint announcement, THE Alliance — Hapag-Lloyd, HMM, Ocean Network Express and Yang Ming — said Wednesday that it will continue to have blanked sailings through September at least. It said while the Asia-North Europe trade has been extraordinarily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, adjusted schedules in all trades will continue in order to match market demand.

Among THE Alliance services affecting U.S. ports, Atlantic Loop 4 (AL4) includes an eastbound sailing from New Orleans. A sailing early in the third quarter, scheduled for July 11, has been blanked. AL4 also calls Houston.

On the West Coast North America-Australasia (WSN) service, the Kota Ekspres was discharging cargo at the Port of Long Beach on Wednesday. The vessel then will be taken out of service until sailing from the Port of Oakland on July 31. 

Hapag-Lloyd said the coronavirus pandemic has had “a major impact on the logistics industry and will continue to cause disruptions for some time to come.” Hapag-Lloyd provides updates on blanked sailings on its website.

The 2M alliance of Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) also has announced the cancellation of its Dragon (Asia-Mediterranean) and Swan (Asia-North Europe) services for the entire third quarter. 

MSC said on its website that as part of its “ongoing prudent response to the decline in demand amid COVID-19,” its blanked Asia-Europe network was being extended during the summer. 

The cancellation of the Dragon and Swan services amounts to a capacity reduction of 22% between Asia and Europe, according to Lars Jensen, CEO of Copenhagen, Denmark-based SeaIntelligence Consulting. 

“There is a slight caveat though. They also expect to deploy a ‘sweeper’ service termed Griffin by MSC. It will be a fortnightly service catering for cargo to both the Mediterranean and North Europe. The vessels are not yet announced but will offset the cancellation somewhat and lead to an approximate capacity reduction of 15-18% instead of 22%,” Jensen wrote in an online post.

Jensen said the blanked sailings announced by 2M and THE Alliance now total 75 for Q3.

The Griffin service is scheduled to start in the second half of June with the following rotation: Shanghai – Ningbo – Yantian – Singapore – Tanjung Pelepas – Port Said – Rotterdam – Antwerp – Singapore – Ningbo.

MSC said, “The service is being deployed to ease ongoing supply chain disruption from the impact of COVID-19. However, it will only sail if demand is gradually growing.”

MSC said it also has decided to extend the suspension of its Elephant service, which connects Thailand with the U.S. East Coast. The service was suspended in mid-April “in order to match network capacity with the reduction in demand for cargo shipments due to COVID-19.”

MSC said the suspension will be extended until at least the end of September and will not resume until there is a “sufficient increase in market demand.”

On Thursday 2M said it was extending the suspension of its trans-Atlantic TA4/NEUATL4 service through the week of July 6. That service, with a weekly capacity of 5,220 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), has a rotation of Antwerp – Rotterdam – Bremerhaven – Liverpool – New York – Savannah – Port Everglades – Charleston – Antwerp.

More blanked sailings expected

Jensen said he expects the OCEAN Alliance — APL, CMA CGM, Evergreen Line, COSCO Shipping and Orient Overseas Container Line — soon will announce its own blankings for Q3.

The OCEAN Alliance already has canceled a June 16 sailing from Fuqing, China, and a return from Los Angeles on July 6.

A Qingdao, China, rotation with a sailing from Savannah, Georgia, on July 24 also has been canceled.

On Thursday, the OCEAN Alliance confirmed two Asia-Europe voided sailings from Ningbo on July 14 and 28. The capacity on the Evergreen-chartered vessels is 14,000 TEUs.

Simon Sundboell, founder and CEO of Copenhagen-based eeSEA, told FreightWaves last month that if mass cancellations extended into July it would illustrate that carriers were not receiving enough bookings from shippers and suggest a slow economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Kim Link-Wills. Senior Editor Greg Miller contributed to this article. Click for more FreightWaves articles by Greg Miller.

Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.