Maersk and Hamburg Süd have announced the launch of three new services on its Asia to Latin America trades, Maersk COO Søren Toft told the audience at the company’s Capital Markets Day in Copenhagen on 20 February.
A return of the round-the-world services, first launched by Evergreen in the early 1980s and discontinued some 20 years later, has been announced by Maersk and its Hamburg Süd subsidiary. This will be supplemented with two services operating out of China, via Chile and New Zealand, with one service operating in a clockwise direction and the other counter-clockwise.
Integration of the Hamburg Süd network is set to start in the second quarter of this year, Toft said, adding that the acquisition of the German carrier will allow the company to develop these services.
“With the acquisition of Hamburg Süd we now have the scale and it makes sense for us to go through the [Panama] canal and serve the Caribbean market. At some point you get the scale and you want to do it, but if you don’t have the scale it becomes an expensive option,” explained Toft.
He added that Maersk has a very large market share in the Caribbean market, with Brazil and Argentina starting to recover from three to four years of poor growth. Brazil showed growth last year of nearly 10%, giving lines the opportunity to serve the Caribbean and the northern part of Brazil, meaning that “we don’t have to serve northern Brazil with our service that goes to Asia south of the Cape. It is really a Caribbean and Brazilian product that nobody else can match”.
“We are keeping the commercial front end of Hamburg Süd and we also want to keep their service branding the same. So it’s the same network, but they market it under the ASPA network - ASPA 1, 2, 3, and 5, because 4 is a bad number in China - and Maersk market the same network as the AC services,” Toft told Fairplay.
AC [ASPA] 5 is the global service and there will be 12 or 13 ships of around 10,000 teu operating on this service, while the AC1 service will be operated by 4,500 teu ships and the AC2 and 3 services will be operated by 9,500 teu vessels.
Toft said, “The new AC5 service will call in Asia, the Caribbean, both sides, and then straight back south to the Cape. We have the option, depending on our cargo flows, to once in a while send this service through the Suez Canal and once in a while to send it south to the Cape, but the plan is mainly for it to go round the Cape.”
Cargo bookings for the AC5 service are expected to begin in the next two weeks.
“We have already announced the major port calls but we will give a more detailed overview of the rotations during the early part of March [before] the system goes live about a month later,” promised Toft.