2M starts Asia/US Gulf coast service

In anticipation of rising cargo volumes between the southern US and Asia, Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co are to launch a new weekly service between South Korea/China and ports along the Gulf coast.Sailings are scheduled to start in May with direct calls at Qingdao, Ningbo, Shanghai, Xiamen, Yantian, Busan, Cristobal, Houston, Mobile, Miami, Balboa, Busan and return to Qingdao. Maersk and MSC, which work together in the 2M alliance, will brand the service as the TP18 and Lone Star Express respectively. Up to 10 vessels in the 4,500 to 5,000 TEU will be assigned to the operation, but these could be increased in size once the new set of locks are opened on the Panama Canal. This will take place in June. In particular, the new service will cater for the increasing exports of petroleum/gas-related products being exported out of Houston, wood and pulp out of Mobile and general goods, including agri-products, out of Miami. While some cargo transhipped from the Caribbean/Central America will also be moved via Miami, MSC views Houston as offering it an additional and important gateway for the US market. Meanwhile, in other moves 2M is to restructure its Everglades service with MSC rebranding it as the Amberjack service. From early May, direct calls will be made in New York/New Jersey with the full rotation comprising Tianjin, Qingdao, Shanghai, Busan, Savannah, New York, Charleston, Jacksonville, Freeport and return to Qingdao.

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