South Korean government assisting Korean exports through extra sailings

South Korea’s HMM and SM Lines are set to add more than 82,000 TEU of monthly capacity on the Asia-Europe and trans-Pacific trades, partly in response to a South Korean government-backed initiative to support domestic shippers, reports IHS Media.

The nation’s two remaining carriers active in the major east-west trades said they would provide that additional capacity through the deployment of extra loaders – ad hoc sailings not associated with a regularly scheduled liner service – and larger vessels on existing strings connecting South Korea with Europe and the US West Coast.

Securing enough capacity for Korean exporters is a government priority, as authorities warned carriers in November they would investigate the violation of contracts in which carriers prioritise Chinese cargo over South Korean exports.

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HMM is advancing the deployment of its eight 16,000 TEU vessels on THE Alliance Asia-Europe services after debuting a dozen 24,000 TEU ships on the trade last year.

According to sailing schedules from fellow THE Alliance member Ocean Network Express, HMM will be the exclusive tonnage provider on the alliance’s weekly FE4 service in the coming weeks, deploying both 16,000 TEU and 24,000 TEU vessels. That’s a significant upgrade from February, when the FE4 commenced as an extra-loader loop using a mixed fleet of vessels ranging from 6,500 TEU to 14,000 TEU in capacity.

“Our 16,000 TEU newly built containerships, scheduled to be delivered by June can support local shippers,” HMM spokesman Hojoon Lee, said. “These efforts are also part of HMM’s strategic plans to relieve supply chain disruptions worldwide.”

South Korean Ministry of Trade subsidizing shippers for higher freight costs

In addition, Mr Lee said HMM plans to continue its extra loader programme for as long as it is supported by shipper demand. Since volumes began to recover in the second half of last year, the carrier has deployed a total of 24 extra-loader vessels ranging from 1,200 TEU to 6,800 TEU on routes to the US, North Europe, the Russian Far East, and Haiphong, Vietnam, he said, adding that HMM is also using several multi-purpose vessels “as securing containerships in the charter market is never easy at this moment.”

Ken Park, CEO of SM Lines, said the two extra loaders the carrier is deploying this month will continue sailing on a semi-regular basis, adding to the carrier’s four weekly trans-Pacific services with the 2M Alliance of Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Co.

The additional capacity comes after South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy (MOTIE) said it would increase subsidies paid to small and medium sized shippers aimed at offsetting surging freight costs to KWR12.1 billion (US $10.7 million), up 71 per cent from an earlier allocation.

MOTIE also confirmed last week that six extra loaders would sail from Busan to the Americas this month, providing an extra 32,800 TEU of capacity, and another six would sail to Europe would operate by the end of June after some carriers omitted calls to the port in an effort to get vessels back on schedule.

©2016 HKSG Group Media Ltd

Photo: Michael J Palmer /