Maersk to seek huge Asia-Europe surcharges
Maersk Line will ask shippers to pay mammoth peak season surcharges on the Asia-to-Europe trade, the line confirmed to American Shipper Monday.
The Danish line will start assessing a surcharge of $750 per 20-foot container and $1,000 per 40-foot container from Asia to northern Europe, and $600 per 20-foot container and $800 per 40-foot container from Asia to the Mediterranean on July 15.
'The container market from Asia to Europe is showing a continued strong trend which we expect to carry on through the summer resulting in space constraints and shortage of equipment,' Maersk said in a customer notice dated June 7.
The surcharges are even higher for high-cube containers — $1,200 per 40-foot container to northern Europe and $1,000 per 40-foot container to the Mediterranean.
The peak season fee came to light through a Reuters story out of Copenhagen Friday, and would represent what many feel is the biggest surcharge ever sought by a container shipping line.
“The utilization on the vessels, the demand for transportation in the second quarter has been much higher than normal, which means there’s less slack in the network to accommodate for the peak that is coming,” Vincent Clerc, head of Maersk’s Asia-Europe, told Reuters. He added there's a shortage in Asia not only of capacity, but also containers.
With demand between Asia and Europe strengthening throughout the year, Maersk is leading the charge to redress an economic equation that saw the major container lines lose hundreds of millions of dollars in 2009.
The trade has recovered to such an extent that some rates for a 40-foot container are reportedly close to $4,000 little more than a year after there were widespread reports of zero rates in the spot market from Asia to Europe. Capacity is tight, despite loops being added by several carriers and alliances in the past two months, meaning shippers are still encountering problems of having their cargo rolled.
Maersk and CMA CGM in July are due to launch a huge 10-ship Asia/northern Europe loop using the carriers' 13,000-TEU vessels, a service that will provide a fair amount of capacity to the trade.
According to American Shipper affiliate ComPair Data, there was 213,973 TEUs of weekly capacity on the Asia-to-northern Europe trade on June 13. That's an increase of only 2.6 percent since April 1, and only 9 percent since Jan. 1.
Clerk indicated to Reuters that demand is up 23 percent year-on-year, suggesting carriers have been successful thus far in not allowing capacity to outstrip demand. That's kept ships full and rates climbing.
The new big-ship loop from Maersk and CMA would theoretically add about 6 percent weekly capacity to the trade. ' Eric Johnson