HMM plans independent role in Asia
HYUNDAI Marshant Marine (HMM), South Korea's largest shipping company, is drawing up plans to start an independent intra-Asia service, according to president Park Se-yong.
Mr Park said the service will use Singapore and the South Korean port of Kwangyang as hubs.
The company currently provides intra-Asia services in co-operation with other carriers.
HMM, which in June launched a Pacific Northwest (PNW) service aimed at markets in Hong Kong and Japan, celebrated the first anniversary its Far East-Europe service last week.
Mr Park said a sixth post-Panamax vessel will be added to its independent Pacific Southwest (PSW) service in April.
''With six vessels on the route, we will be able to extend the service further south to make direct calls at Singapore,'' he said.
The new vessel, being built by affiliate Hyundai Heavy industries (HH1) at its Ulsan shipyard, will be identical to the five vessels of the Hyundai Admiral class now operating the PSW service.
The five vessels, which can carry 4,400 20 ft equivalent units (TEUs), were phased in from September last year, almost doubling capacity on the route.
The ships replaced the six 2,900-TEU fleet which was switched to the Far East-Europe service, which began in October last year.
Mr Park said that on the PSW service, eastbound trade to the US was quite strong, but the westbound trade weak.
However, he said the westbound trade from the US was expected to recover by the time the new vessel came into service.
Under its long-term newbuilding plan, HMM has reserved slots at HHI to build six more post-Panamax vessels, which may eventually replace the 2,900-TEU vessels on the Far East-Europe service.
''Under the current trend, every line is trying to build bigger ships. By building the new ships, we are just trying to get in good shape for the competition,'' Mr Park said.
The new vessels are expected to be completed by the end of next year.
With six post-Panamax vessels each on PSW and Far East-Europe routes, HHM would be able to provide a pendulum service from the Far East to Europe and America, Mr Park said.
The PSW service will continue to be provided in association with SeaLand ''as long as they co-operate with larger ships'', he said.
''Otherwise, we may have to co-operate with someone else to provide better service and help stabilise the market,'' Mr Park said.
The company also is considering an independent PNW service by 1995 or 1996 and may phase some of the newbuildings into the Pacific trades to replace the 2,900-TEU ships operating.
The PNW service is provided through a space-chartering arrangement with Mitsui OSK Lines.
In South Korea, HHM is participating in a government-sponsored project to build four container berths at Kwangyang port.
HMM, Cho Yang, Hanjin and American President Lines (APL) have tendered for each to build one berth. APL joined the project after Maersk Lines pulled out.