China Shipping Container Lines is to set up a Middle East hub port at Khorfakkan in the United Arab Emirates, starting at the end of March. CSCL will introduce calls there in both east and westbound directions on its existing China/Europe service, which will be upgraded in capacity.
In addition, CSCL will utilise Khorfakkan to launch another new trade initiative serving the China/Middle East/Indian subcontinent trade lane – one that China Ocean Shipping Co tested in 2000, but decided to withdraw from within 12 months.
On the existing China/Europe trade, CSCL will introduce nine new 5,500/5,600 teu vessels to replace eight 4,500 teu ships, effectively raising capacity by 50,000 teu a year. The first four of these ships are already being phased in from the trans-Pacific trade, and the remainder, which includes four new vessels under construction in China, will be in place around mid-2003.
The newly-planned schedule for CSCL's China/Europe service will be: Shanghai, Ningbo, Xiamen, Chiwan, Hong Kong, Port Kelang, Khorfakkan, Valencia, Felixstowe, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Khorfakkan, Port Kelang, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
In addition to these new initiatives, CSCL will launch a new China/Europe service this year, to supplement existing services on the trade lane. That move will inject another 200,000 teu capacity annually into the world's second largest east/west trade route. Earlier plans to enter the trans-Atlantic trade have been shelved, with sources conceding the trade is over-tonnaged and still suffering from depressed freight rates.