The liner carrier Maersk Line said this week it plans to “super slow-steam” on the backhaul leg of five Asia-Europe services, another adjustment to its Northern Europe-Asia network.
Last week, Maersk said it would stop accepting bookings on the backhaul through May due to a backlog of cargo induced by lower westbound capacity on the trade after the Chinese New Year.
The line will now add one vessel to its AE1, AE6, AE7, AE9 and AE10 services from mid- to late April, which will increase the backhaul transit times from Northern Europe to Asia by one week.
“The addition of a vessel to each service provides seven additional days of transit time from North Europe to Asia Eastbound,” the line said in a customer notice. “It will improve our reliability for your cargo to reach the destination and this will also reduce the CO2
emission of your supply chain further.”
Francis Phillips, chief analyst of American Shipper
liner affiliate ComPair Data, said the changes may create a 10-day gap in transit times westbound versus eastbound.
For instance, the AE1 goes from Tanjung Pelepas (the line’s Daily Maersk hub in Southeast Asia) to Zeebrugge in 19 days at present. From Bremerhaven to Singapore on the backhaul, transit time is currently 21 days (via Colombo). On Maersk’s AE2 service, Tanjung Pelepas-to-Le Havre transit time is 17 days, while the backhaul from Felixstowe to Singapore is again 21 days. Slowing down another seven days would push both backhaul legs to Southeast Asia to 28 days.
Phillips said it is easier for lines to raise rates on headhaul legs than on backhaul legs, where ships run on lower utilization rates. — Eric Johnson