KOREA's Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) will step back into the Asia-Europe trade it quit last year with the April start of a service that will deploy 10 comparatively tiny old panamax vessels of 4,700 TEU.
A spokesman for HMM said the port rotation of the Asia Europe Express (AEX) has not yet been finalised, but Alphaliner reports that the new service will turn in 10 weeks, calling at Busan, Shanghai, Ningbo, Kaohsiung, Shenzhen-Yantian, Singapore, Colombo, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Felixstowe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Busan.
The first sailing is planned for April 7 from Busan with the 4,728 TEU Hyundai Grace, reports IHS Media.
Deploying the smaller ships will make the Korean carrier's unit costs higher than mega ship runs, but will also make faster connections between Busan and Rotterdam with a transit time of 30 days, compared with 33 to 39 days on rival services.
Asked whether the higher unit costs and faster transit time meant the AEX would be marketed as a premium service and priced accordingly, the HMM spokesman said it had not yet been determined.