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CMA CGM to up Asia-Europe capacity 10pc in first quarter

FRENCH shipping giant CMA CGM expects the heavy demand on Asia-Europe to be maintained through February, and will increase its capacity 10 per cent in the first quarter

21 December 2020 - 19:00
FRENCH shipping giant CMA CGM expects the heavy demand on Asia-Europe to be maintained through February, and will increase its capacity 10 per cent in the first quarter.

At the same time, the carrier is also trying to mitigate a worsening equipment imbalance that has spread to Asia-Europe from the transpacific and has been described by Sea-Intelligence Maritime Analysis in its latest Sunday Spotlight as, 'the absolute largest problem in container shipping right now'.



CMA CGM said in a statement it increased the size of its container fleet by 8.7 per cent in the second half of 2020, and re-routed services or made extra calls at ports on the Asia-Europe routes to clear bottlenecks of empty containers.



The additional ocean capacity CMA CGM will inject in Q1 will be provided by the six remaining liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered 23,000-TEU ships from a nine-vessel order that will be delivered in the first three months of 2021, reports IHS Media.



The first three mega-ships from the order were delivered in Q4. Two extra loaders will also provide 9,000 TEU in additional capacity on Asia-Europe, with departures from China to France and the Netherlands in late December. An additional import call at Le Havre by the FAL 1 line between Asia and Europe will provide greater capacity for the French market.



Olivier Nivoix, executive vice president, lines, for CMA CGM, said in an interview Monday: 'We have adapted capacity on the trans-Pacific, not just by adding larger ships, but also by doing a lot of extra loaders and shifting to the demand of e-commerce requiring faster services and a different type of quality.'



After the collapse of volume in the second quarter, container shipping was surprised by the rapid recovery of demand from mid-year, first on the trans-Pacific and then on Asia-Europe, creating a peak season on both trades that has not ended.



'A lot of North European retailers who we speak to who are telling us that they keep restocking, and as soon as the products become available, they sell them again,' Mr Nivoix said.



CMA CGM's global container volume rose 18.4 per cent in the second half compared with the Covid-19-affected first six months of the year, with third-quarter volume up 17 per cent over the second quarter. However, Mr Nivoix said visibility of demand after Chinese New Year remained unclear.



'CMA CGM expects European demand for Asian imports to remain elevated through February, and the length beyond that is unclear as logistics managers of retailers don't know what their demand will be past three to four months,' Mr Nivoix said.


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