CARRIERS have rushed in to provide all-water Asia-US east coast services, but London's Drewry Maritime Research doubts the sustainability of the "stampede".
Buoyed by rising demand brought about by strife-induced US west coast port slow-downs and congestion, 19 connections were offered in the first quarter between Asia and east coast North America.
With the strong demand, head haul rates rocketed and lured carriers to throw more tonnage in. Asian boxes bound for the east coast in January and February shot up 15 per cent year on year.
But now there are 25 connections, and even after applying a generous allowance for out-of-scope cargo, the monthly slot count is reckoned to reach some 475,000 TEU, equating to 18 per cent greater supply, notes Newark's Journal of Commerce.
Drewry noted that even though the Asia-US east coast routing through Suez had become increasingly popular in the last few year, only one of the six did not transit Panama.
Rates have been attractive too, Before Chinese New Year eastbound spot rates had risen FEU, But after that surge they slipped back to US$3,700 by the end of April.
Yet the rise in cargo landed at east coast ports in the first quarter is impressive, Drewry concedes. US east coast terminals saw gains of 23 per cent while Gulf Coast discharges rose by 53 per cent. Meanwhile the US west coast was hit by a six per cent decline.
Source : HKSG.