HMM joins THE Alliance’s three-loop Asia-Middle East network

HMM has muscled its way into THE Alliance’s Asia-Middle East offering in the newly launched network.

However, the South Korean carrier has still not decided to participate in THEA’s transatlantic network, after it pulled out of its slot charter deal with the 2M in May 2018, following months of heavy losses and being obliged to compensate Maersk and MSC for the 700 slots a week deal.

When THE Alliance published its expanded network details on 16 January, its new offering including the participation of HMM as a full member from 1 April, and the Asia-Middle East loops had yet to be finally agreed between the carriers.

In the interim, THE Alliance published its single AR1 loop with an itinerary of: Busan, Shanghai, Ningbo, Shekou, Singapore, Port Kelang, Jeddah, Aquaba, Sokhna, Jeddah, Singapore and back to Busan.

“HMM will not participate on the AR1,” noted the release.

Today’s announcement from the four partners, Hapag-Lloyd, HMM, ONE and Yang Ming, said: “THE Alliance will introduce three newly organised express loops from early April, and these services will provide high-frequency, direct and expanded coverage, and the fastest connection from the respective regions.”

The revised network consists of three loops:

AG1 – Ningbo, Kaohsiung, Xiamen, Shekou, Singapore, Jebel Ali, Damman, Hamad, Sohar, Singapore and then back to Ningbo;

AG2 – Shanghai, Ningbo, Shekou, Port Kelang, Jebel Ali, Hamad, Umm Qasar, Jebel Ali, Singapore and Shanghai;

AG3 – Qingdao, Busan, Shanghai, Jebel Ali, Damman, Jubail, Abu Dhabi, Port Kelang, Singapore, Hong Kong and Qingdao.

The 2M is the only alliance not to have announced network adjustments from 1 April, partly due to its tie-up with South Korea’s SM Line on the transpacific, but also due to the coronavirus in China, which has thrown a spanner in the network discussions.

Meanwhile, HMM is preparing to phase-in its 12 24,000 teu scrubber-fitted ULCVs on THE Alliance’s FE4 Asia-North Europe loop, as they are delivered from the South Korean yards.

And the industry is abuzz with rumours that both Hapag-Lloyd and ONE will shortly announce confirmed orders for a number of these new-normal 24,000 teu ships.