Shippers get guaranteed place on APL Asia to US routes

Dive Brief:
•CMA CGM subsidiary APL has launched “Eagle Go” a premium booking “money back” option that guarantees container space on select Asia to US services, The Loadstar reported Tuesday.

•The guarantee applies to 20 specific routes issuing from Shanghai, Ningbo and Yantian in China and Cai Mep in Vietnam,and also includes the Eagle Express (EX1), South China 1 (SC1) and Pendulum Loop 1 (PE1) routes serving the US west coast. Six loops on the eastern coast of the U.S. are also included.

•Although the new service complements other premium offerings by APL, previous similar efforts by Maersk to guarantee space for a price on specific routes proved unsuccessful and eventually cancelled.

Dive Insight:
Instead of paying cancellation fees, shippers may be able to increase cost-savings by pre-paying for a spot on an ocean vessel.

The issue of no-shows by shippers versus rollovers by carriers plagues the ocean cargo transport industry. Various methods exist to forestall the round-robin frustration and expense, from a blockchain reservation system to a contract-based percentage fee system for both shippers and carriers who default. Even the European Shipping Council says penalties should be levied on both sides.

Despite talk of fees, penalties and contracts, the no-show versus rollover problem continues, to the point that a special guaranteed service is deemed viable. The program launches in early November, which may appease nervous shippers ahead of peak season.

Though the development of a fee-for-guarantee solution for a problem that suggests carriers and shippers are still struggling to establish trust, this offering may help them save money and develop better business relationships.

“APL’s Eagle GO Guaranteed seeks to address the concerns of equipment and vessel space shortages as the Trans-Pacific trading season goes full steam. It guarantees priority shipments on APL services, allowing shippers to optimally capitalise on the year-end holiday shopping season,” said Jesper Stenbak, APL Senior Vice President of Trans-Pacific Trade in a press release.

The real test of the initiative will be post-peak: if the numbers are favorable, the new program could be the solution the industry needs.
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