China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL) is pushing ahead with a planned capacity upgrade on its Far East/Europe service by introducing larger vessels and switching ships across from another service covering the US west coast. After a trial trip late last year to test the capabilities of ports like Valencia in handling the larger vessels, CSCL is bringing in three 5,500 teu postpanamax vessels in January and February to replace the smaller, and slower ships. This should improve transit times and schedule integrity. The existing nine-ship service will be reduced to eight ships later in the year.
CSCL has eight post-panamax vessels of around 5,500 teu capacity on order in China for delivery in 2003-04. The port coverage on its existing Far East/Europe service includes calls at Shanghai, Ningbo, Xiamen, Chiwan and Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, CSCL said it hopes to enter the Europe/Indian sub-continent trade during the first half of 2003, according to inside sources. Plans centre on the launch of a new container service that will also include the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
The recently revealed plans are part of a long-term aim by CSCL to operate around 250,000 teu on the major trade routes by the end of 2003. CSCL presently ranks in the lower part of the top 20 shipping lines as far as capacity utilisation is concerned, with around 130,000 teu, much of it on long-term charter agreements. But with 250,000 teu in operation by the end of 2003, the carrier is looking to climb to ninth or 10th place, according to analyst figures.