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Transatlantic lane displaces Asia-US West Coast as most profitable route

The Asia-US West Coast route is no longer the most lucrative, according to Alphaliner, as rates have fallen below US$3,500/FEU.

The Transatlantic has become the most lucrative one, with rates from Rotterdam to New York hovering between US$6,700 and US$8,350 per FEU.

In view of the relatively short sailing distance, an average Transatlantic rate of US$7,525/FEU would result in average revenue of US$2.18 per nautical mile. This largely surpasses the current level of 73 cents/nautical mile on the Shanghai – New York or Shanghai – Rotterdam routes.

Liner operators have begun responding to the movements in demand by re-assigning their vessels.

Later in September 2022, COSCO Shipping Lines will replace the 8,063 TEU OOCL Seoul, which is among the vessels in the Ocean Alliance’s TAT2 Transatlantic service, with the larger, 13,092 TEU COSCO Harmony.

The COSCO Harmony will be the largest container ship employed on a dedicated Transatlantic service, although larger vessels cross the North Atlantic on Suez-routed Far East – US East Coast loops.

Ships of 12,000 to 14,000 TEU have done North Europe-US East Coast sailings, but only as extra loaders on an ad hoc basis. The biggest vessel currently deployed as an extra sailer is the 12,000 TEU MSC Rayshmi.

The TAT2 service, calling at Southampton, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Le Havre, New York, Norfolk, Savannah, Charleston, Southampton, is now served by five 8,000 to 9,500 TEU ships. However, more capacity will be added in October, when the 8,465 TEU CMA CGM Bianca will be deployed as the sixth vessel.

Alphaliner opined that the Asia-US West Coast freight rates will stay under pressure amid economic challenges.

“The phenomenal rise in energy costs and high inflation will clearly further impact consumer spending,” pointed out Alphaliner.

Martina Li
Asia Correspondent

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