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HMM axes South Korea-Japan service

Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) will cease its South Korea-Japan service ahead of the South Korean liner operator’s entry into THE Alliance on 1 April.

HMM’s Japan Feeder 1 (JF1) service made its last sailing on 24 March 2020. Thereafter, through THE Alliance, HMM will continue to serve the South Korea-Japan route via a similar loop on the EC1 transpacific service.

Meanwhile, HMM has paid US$25 million into a contingency fund set up by THE Alliance. The fund was set up by the now-defunct CKYHE Alliance after Hanjin Shipping collapsed in 2016 and other alliance members had to handle the resulting supply chain fallout.

HMM began the JF1 in April 2017, using a 700TEU vessel, before higher cargo volumes saw the ship replaced with a 1,000TEU vessel.  Currently, HMM deploys a chartered ship, Lantau Bay to the service, planning to redeliver the vessel to its owner, German tonnage provider NSB Niederelbe Schiffahrtsges, on 29 March.

Eleven 8,000TEU vessels will be assigned to EC1, whose loop is Xiamen, Kaohsiung, Hong Kong, Yantian, Busan, Tokyo, Manzanillo, Savannah, Jacksonville, Charleston, Norfolk, Manzanillo, Tokyo, Kobe and Xiamen.

HMM said, “Major Asian routes are being reorganised in line with THE Alliance. Ocean Network Express will deploy ships to routes connecting South Korea and Japan. Other services linking the two countries will be covered by South Korean feeder operators.”

The move means that both of South Korea’s mainline operators, HMM and SM Line Corporation, have stopped solo South Korea-Japan services.

SM Line made the decision ahead of commencing joint transpacific services with the 2M alliance that comprises Maersk Line and MSC, also on 1 April.

HMM is set to be renamed to its acronym after its annual general meeting on 27 March, reflecting the fact that the Hyundai group is no longer its largest shareholder.

Martina Li
Asia Correspondent

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