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Home Most Popular Vessel upsizing pushes more Neo-Panamax units to mid-haul lanes

Vessel upsizing pushes more Neo-Panamax units to mid-haul lanes

More and more Neo-Panamax container ships in the 13,000 to 16,550 TEU capacity range are being cascaded into North-South trades as more Megamax ships in the 23,000 to 24,000 TEU range are delivered and alloted to Asia-Europe lanes, said Alphaliner today (27 September).

Fifteen (circa 24%) of the 62 Neo-Panamax newbuildings hitting the water this year have been assigned to North-South services from Asia to South America (nine ships), Africa (three) or the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent (three).

Alphaliner said: “The percentage of new Neo-Panamax capacity assigned to North-South services is expected to further increase as 15 yet-to-be-delivered newbuildings have not appeared in sailing schedules yet. Ship names as CMA CGM Bahia or COSCO Shipping Brazil however suggest that these vessels will likely end up in Asia—Latin America loops.

“MSC has been the most active carrier when it comes to directing Neo-Panamax tonnage to North-South routes (nine vessels so far). This is, however, not surprising as MSC is taking the highest number of new Neo-Panamaxes in service this year.”

This year, MSC will take delivery of 27 Neo-Panamax units, followed by Wan Hai Lines (10 units) and ZIM Line (seven).

ONE, Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd all add four Neo-Panamax vessels each to their fleet this year. ONE is deploying these new ships in THE Alliance’s Asia-Mediterranean MD1 loop, while Hapag-Lloyd has its four high-reefer Neo-Panamax ships plying between Asia and Latin America.

Neo-Panamax vessels are expected to appear in multiple trades in the coming years. On 1 September, there were no less than 255 vessels in the size range from 12,500 to 17,000 TEU under construction, accounting for 49% of the total orderbook.

The 58 megamax vessels of 23,000—24,346 TEU on order will cause cascading of the same amount of Neo-Panamax tonnage from Asia-Europe to other trades once they enter service.

Currently, about 30% of all active ships of 12,500—15,200 TEU are trading on North-South routes, up from around 20% in September last year. Two years ago, this percentage stood at only circa 16%.

The Far East-West Coast of South America lane is the most popular destination for the assignment of Neo-Panamax vessels. The largest container ship plying the West Coast of South America is the 16,550 TEU MSC Chiyo, which serves MSC’s Andes Express service.

Martina Li
Asia Correspondent

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