HMM increases US West Coast capacity to help shippers

HMM will deploy an additional container ship to its US West Coast service, in response to South Korean shippers’ pleas for more transportation capacity.

The South Korean liner operator said on 15 September 2020 that from 29 September, the 4,600TEU HMM Integral will transport cargoes directly between Busan and Los Angeles, after the ship made such a voyage in August. The previous voyage was initially intended to be a temporary solution to shippers’ woes, but HMM decided to repeat the service at shippers’ request.

HMM CEO Bae Jae-hoon said, “We’re urgently deploying ships to form win-win solutions for domestic shippers. As the national shipping line, we will continue to provide stable services with a sense of responsibility to facilitate exports.”

Transpacific freight rates have hit 10-year highs as carriers have blanked sailings ahead of China’s week-long National Day holidays on 1 October, notwithstanding the usual peak season.

The Korea International Trade Association and China’s Ministry of Transport are said to have expressed concern at the rising shipping costs.

HMM explained that in order to help local shippers, it is offering a direct service between Busan and Los Angeles without going through other regions such as China.

Carriers have been blanking sailings since January, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, fearful that the disruption to economic activities would slash cargo volumes. The move instead led to profits for the carriers and reinforced capacity discipline, at shippers’ expense.

HMM noted that China’s Golden Week holiday coincides with South Korea’s Chuseok (thanksgiving) holiday later this month, meaning shippers are rushing to secure cargo space ahead of the holidays, particularly as US demand is rising.