Alliance set for new service

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 June, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 June, 1999, 12:00am

The Grand Alliance has announced details of its new China Korea Express (CKX) service that will enhance its trans-Pacific network and offer improved coverage in the mainland and South Korea.

The alliance, grouping Hapag-Lloyd Container Line, NYK Line, Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) and P&O Nedlloyd, would launch the service with the departure of a 2,650 teu (20 ft equivalent unit) vessel, P&O Nedlloyd Auckland, on July 30 from Hong Kong, a source said.

The vessel would call at Shanghai (August 1-2), Qingdao (August 3-4), Pusan (August 5-6), Los Angeles (August 15-17), Seattle (August 19-20), Pusan (August 30) and return to Hong Kong on September 2, the source said.

'Transit time from Shanghai to Los Angeles will be 13 days and from Pusan to Los Angeles will be nine days,' Kim Balling, OOCL general manager for corporate marketing, said.

The service reduces the 14-day transit time from Qingdao to Los Angeles to 11 days.

As competition on trans-Pacific routes has increased with the entry of new players such as CMA, shipping lines are fighting to improve transit times and provide customers with better services.

OOCL public relations manager Elin Wong said the starting date of the service was subject to approvals from regulatory bodies in the mainland.

The source said the Grand Alliance had chartered five 2,650-teu vessels from P&O Nedlloyd for the CKX service, which would complement the five Asia-US West Coast and two Asia-US East Coast services.

The five P&O Nedlloyd vessels are P&O Nedlloyd Auckland, P&O Nedlloyd Genoa, P&O Nedlloyd Jakarta, P&O Nedlloyd Sydney and P&O Nedlloyd Marseille.

Mr Balling said: 'With the new service, we are now offering our customers both eastbound and westbound direct express services between Pusan and the United States West Coast.' The carrier had long recognised the need for this service, especially for refrigerated cargo and chemicals moving into Korea as a result of the improved economic outlook there, he said.

The CKX service would also provide a 13-day transit time for the Seattle to Hong Kong corridor, which would appeal to the reefer market and other transit-sensitive goods, he said.

The new service means the Grand Alliance, which deploys 45 vessels on its trans-Pacific service, will be providing five loops on the Pacific.

Mr Balling said OOCL and other Grand Alliance members would continue to fine-tune the extensive alliance service network to meet customers' requirements.

The new service was complemented by OOCL's extensive networks in the mainland and North America, he said.

OOCL also offers an extensive intermodal network in both countries and provides a fast and reliable link to all big inland cities.

The carrier intends to use Qingdao as a gateway for its reefer-on-rail service as the demand for refrigerated produce opens up new markets.