Maersk offers trans-Pacific container space on new exchange as peak season hits

The Maersk Essen, one of the company’s vessels on the trans-Pacific trade lane.

Online platform offering is part of container line’s digital push. 

Maersk Line says it will team with a maritime technology start-up to offer shippers container space on one of its busiest trade lanes.

The New York Shipping Exchange (NYSHEX) says Maersk will use its platform for the first time to post offers for container space from China to the U.S.. 

The new offering comes at a period of peak seasonal demand for container shipping, ramping up from mid-August through early October. 

The Freightos container index, available on SONAR, shows the spot shipping rate for containers from China to the U.S. West Coast rising 60% since the start of June to reach $2,082 per forty foot equivalent (ffe). The rate to the U.S. East Coast is up 48% to $3,245 per ffe.


The NYSHEX offering arrives on the heels of Maersk’s decision to start distributing rates electronically through CargoSphere. The initiatives are part of Maersk chief executive Soren Skou’s push to ease the process of booking ocean freight, which he called “at times, quite painful.”  

Matt Hill, who heads Maersk’s trans-Pacific service offerings, says shipping capacity this peak season looks tighter due to high shipper demand and the rationalization in trans-Pacific shipping capacity. 

Maersk’s head of trans-Pacific Matt Hill: “You have the markings for a strong peak season.”

“We typically see a historical market increase in August and September as shippers ramp up for their holiday buying season. Combine that with the reduction in capacity shippers are experiencing from many carriers in the trade, uncertainty around the impact on imports out of China because of the tariff issues and overall higher than expected year-to-date volumes—and you have the makings for a strong peak season,” he says.

Drewry Shipping Consultants says Maersk has a roughly 20% share of the trans-Pacific container market, accounting for 350,000 twenty foot equivalent (teu) of capacity monthly.

The 2M Alliance, which includes Maersk and MSC, has four weekly trans-Pacific sailings from Asia to the US West Coast with total capacity of  44,904 twenty foot equivalent unit (teu), according to ComPort, the vessel capacity data product from PR Information Services. 

On the Asia-US East sailings, 2M has five week weekly with 39,747-teu capacity, ComPort says.

Maersk did not say how much capacity will be offered on NYSHEX, with the volume varying depending on availability. But Hill says “with the feedback we’re getting, we can see it is promising. 

“We’ll know more in the coming weeks with contracts secured and bookings being fulfilled,“ he added.

In January, Maersk joined as a carrier member of the NYSHEX, first offering capacity for containerized grain shipments. NYSHEX’s other carrier members include Hapag Lloyd, CMA CGM, MOL, OOCL, and COSCO.

NYSHEX said in January that around 3,000-teu of capacity had traded on its platform since its August 2017 launch. 

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Michael Angell, Bulk and Intermodal Editor

Michael Angell covers maritime, intermodal and related topics for FreightWaves. His interest in transportation stretches back several generations. One great-grandfather was a dray horseman along the New York waterfront and another was a railway engineer in Texas. More recently, Michael has written about the shipping industry for TradeWinds, energy markets for Oil Price Information Service, and general business topics for FactSet Mergerstat and Investor's Business Daily. When he is not stuck in the office, he enjoys tours of ports, terminals, and railyards.