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Maersk extends West Africa loop to China deploying larger WAFMAXers

MAERSK and its integrated unit Safmarine will extend their Far East-West Africa FEW 3 loop to China, with the inclusion of a string covering Tanjung Pelepas, Qingdao, Ningbo, Shanghai, Guangzhou-Nansha and back to Tanjung Pelepas.

Maersk extends West Africa loop to China deploying larger WAFMAXers
26 June 2012 - 23:27

MAERSK and its integrated unit Safmarine will extend their Far East-West Africa FEW 3 loop to China, with the inclusion of a string covering Tanjung Pelepas, Qingdao, Ningbo, Shanghai, Guangzhou-Nansha and back to Tanjung Pelepas.

The service currently only calls at Tanjung Pelepas where east Asian cargo bound for West Africa are transhipped, reports Alphaliner. The phasing in of a WAFMAX 4,496 TEUers, replacing 2,500 TEU units, has enabled the carriers to replace the hub and spoke model with direct China calls.

A similar extension was applied one year ago to the FEW 2 loop when WAFMAX ships were first introduced on this loop to replace 3,000-3,500-TEU ships. WAFMAX vessels were the first containerships designed for shallow waters of West Africa.

The West Africa range of the FEW 3 has also been revised with the removal of the Nigerian calls of Lagos-Tincan and Onne and the addition of Tema (Ghana). Tema was so far covered with the FEW 2. Lagos and Onne will continue to be covered with the FEW 2 and FEW 1.

The revised FEW 3 will turn in 12 weeks, instead of the current 11 weeks. The rotation has been extended by only one week despite the extension to China as time is saved with the removal of the Nigerian ports, affected by a chronic congestion obliging to introduce buffer time in the schedules, said Paris-based Alphaliner.

The FEW 3 will also continue to call at Cape Town in both directions, offering additional opportunities to connect the Far East and South Africa and South Africa to West Africa. The new rotation covers Qingdao, Ningbo, Shanghai, Guangzhou-Nansha, Port Kelang, Tanjung Pelepas, Cape Town, Pointe Noire, Tema, Cape Town and back to Qingdao.

Six WAFMAX ships of 4,496 TEU currently operate alongside six 2,500-TEU units on the FEW 3 and they will be joined by additional WAFMAXers as they are delivered over the next few months.

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