Newbuilding Shortfall Impacts OCEAN Alliance’s Asia-Europe Service Frequency


  • OCEAN Alliance, comprising CMA CGM, COSCO Shipping Lines, and Evergreen Marine Corporation, faced challenges in maintaining their regular Asia-North Europe and Asia-Mediterranean schedules due to a shortage of new buildings and vessel reassignments amid the Red Sea crisis.
  • According to Alphaliner’s report, while mainline operators typically offer 8.5 departures per loop weekly, OCEAN Alliance managed only 6.3 weekly loops.
  • COSCO-operated services like Asia-North Europe LL1/AEU1 managed eight sailings, including the 24,188 TEU OOCL Valencia’s maiden voyage. However, the AEU7 loop had only four departures despite the addition of the 9,469 TEU Beijing.
  • Due to the crisis, vessels like the 19,273 TEU COSCO Shipping Aries were shifted from North European loops to the Asia-Mediterranean AEM1/MD2 loop.
  • The Asia-East Mediterranean BEX loop faced missed sailings due to a lack of vessels, with only one sailing offered in February using the 5,668 TEU Xin Xiamen. CMA CGM compensated partially with ad hoc sailings using vessels like the 5,782 TEU CMA CGM Mozart.

OCEAN Alliance Operations During The Red Sea Crisis

Amid the Red Sea crisis, the OCEAN Alliance members (CMA CGM, COSCO Shipping Lines, and Evergreen Marine Corporation) faced operational challenges in maintaining their regular Asia-North Europe and Asia-Mediterranean schedules due to a shortage of new vessel additions and the inability to reassign vessels from other routes.

Alphaliner’s report showed that while mainline operators should offer 8.5 departures per loop weekly, OCEAN managed just 6.3 weekly loops.

While the COSCO-operated Asia – North Europe LL1 / AEU1 service offered eight sailings and one of these was performed by the 24,188 TEU OOCL Valencia on its maiden voyage, another COSCO-operated loop, the AEU7, however only had four departures from Shanghai, despite adding the comparatively small 9,469 TEU Beijing to the fleet.

Operational Adjustments And Responses Amid The Red Sea Crisis

As the mixed COSCO / Evergreen Asia – Mediterranean AEM1 / MD2 loop only had one sailing in January, the 19,273 TEU megamax COSCO Shipping Aries was shifted from a North European loop to this Mediterranean service for the first sailing in February.

There were also missed sailings for the Asia–East Mediterranean BEX loop, which needs four additional ships to continue weekly. Due to a lack of vessels, only one February sailing could be offered with the small 5,668 TEU Xin Xiamen. CMA CGM was able to compensate this partly for its clients with ad hoc sailings for its account of the 5,782 TEU CMA CGM Mozart and the freshly-delivered 6,014 TEU CMA CGM Khao Sok which will sail to the Adriatic region.

In contrast, THE Alliance (Hapag-Lloyd, Yang Ming Marine Transport, HMM, and ONE) could react quicker to the Red Sea crisis since it had already suspended the South East Asia – North Europe FE5 loop and the Asia – US East Coast EC4 service at the end of November 2023, thus gradually freeing up no fewer than 22 neo-Panamax vessels.

Fleet Expansions By Leading Shipping Alliances

The Alliance managed to offer seven weekly departures for their three loops between Central China and North Europe since Hapag Lloyd received the 23,664 TEU building Busan Express and ONE shifted the 14,952 TEU chartered sisters Zenith Lumos and Zeus Lumos from Asia – Mediterranean trade to the FE3 and FE4 loops.

Mediterranean Shipping Company, the most aggressive operator in expanding its fleet, was able to benefit the 2M alliance’s sailing frequency on the Asia-North Europe and Asia-Mediterranean lanes.

Maersk and MSC managed to increase the fleet of the Asia – North Europe – Scandinavia AE5 / Albatross service to 16 units, which enabled them to offer nine sailings on that service through January and February. The addition of the 19,437 TEU MSC Ditte and the 17,816 TEU Ebba Maersk to the Asia – North Europe – Baltic AE10 / Silk fleet allowed 2M to offer nine departures for that loop as well.

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Source: container-news