Carriers on the Asia – North Europe route will implement major changes to their networks from the end of March, resulting in longer average transit times as vessel sailing speeds are further reduced.
According to Alphaliner, the average duration of services on the corridor will reach a record high of 11.3 weeks as a result of these changes.
Asia – North Europe round trip durations have increased steadily from an average of eight weeks in 2007 to the current average of over eleven weeks, mainly due to slower sailing speeds to mitigate rising bunker prices.
The use of larger ships on this route has also resulted in longer port stays, as the average size of vessels deployed in this trade has more than doubled from 7,000 TEU in 2007 to above 15,000 TEU currently, Alphaliner noted.
The 2M carriers, Maersk and MSC, will extend the duration of two of their six Asia – North Europe services to 13 weeks, making the AE-5/Albatross and AE10/Silk services the longest strings on this route. The extended 91-day rotations for both services includes planned diversions for bunkering calls at the Russian Baltic port of Kaliningrad, which add more than four days to the loops’ total rotations.
Apart from the extension of the two 2M services, THE Alliance has also stretched the rotation of its FE5 from nine to ten weeks, while HMM extended its standalone AEX service from ten to eleven weeks.
In contrast, the OCEAN Alliance will shorten the rotation of its ‘NEU3’ from eleven to ten weeks, while calls at Shanghai and Ningbo will be removed, leaving overall transit times largely unchanged.