Vietnam falls from favour among Asia-Europe carriers


Weak cargo volumes damage interest in Ho Chi Minh, Cai Mep. CMA CGM latest to cut service

CMA CGM has become the latest carrier to drop the number of direct calls it makes at Cai Mep terminals in southern Vietnam.

The number of weekly linehaul calls at the Ho Chi Minh City satellite port of Cai Mep (excluding feeders) has dropped from a peak of 15 calls in June 2011 to only eight calls in July 2012.

Several other carriers have already pulled out of direct services to and from the port, including APL, CSAV and Zim Lines.

CMA CGM removed its calls from its Asia-Europe FAL 3 loop in favour of a new Pearl River Delta call at Yantian, China, last week.

It has now adopted super slow steaming on the route, extending its length from 11 weeks to 12. An additional vessel will also be deployed.

The loop will be run with twelve vessels of 11,000-11,400 teu.

According to analyst Alphaliner, when the Cai Mep terminals first opened in 2009, offering access to vessels of above 3,000 teu to the country for the first time, carriers quickly took the opportunity to introduce direct connections from the port to the US and Europe.

“Within the first two years of its opening, a total of 15 weekly linehaul services (excluding feeder services) added Cai Mep to their rotations,” said the analyst.

“However, interest has waned with weaker than expected cargo volumes, resulting in a reduction in the number of linehaul services calling at Cai Mep to just eight loops.”

These comprise seven intercontinental services and a long haul intra-Asia service.

CMA CGM’s FAL 3 service deployed the largest ships to call at Cai Mep and was the only direct Vietnam-Europe service the carrier offered. It will be replaced temporarily by feeder connections at Singapore.

Alphaliner said two out of the five existing Cai Mep terminals, the PSA-operated SP-PSA terminal and the HPH-operated SITV, are currently left without any regular vessel calls.

It said three more terminals are due to be launched at Cai Mep in the next three years, which will worsen the overcapacity situation.