The services of Silk, Lion, Swan (slots on CMA CGM's FAL 3) and Condor (slots on CMA CGM's FAL 1 and UASC provides two vessels) will be restricted despite a peak season surcharge increase of US$500/TEU introduced on Asia-Europe routes last month.
According to a report from Berkshire-based recycling consultancy SCM scrap-ex, exporters are sceptical of MSC's declared reasons for refusing bookings suggesting instead that the restrictions have been imposed to increase freight rates.
The company said this because Containerisation International's Freight Rate Forecaster calculations does not suggest a surplus of cargo - certainly not on the Asia-Europe backhaul. Second quarter cargo growth declined year on year with a slight increase of 7.3 per cent from Europe and just 1.7 per cent uptick for Mediterranean.
The priority for a carrier such as MSC with a trade route imbalance is to get empty boxes back to Asia to load up with high paying westbound. Repositioning empties to generate high returns would be much better than having them sent to the hinterland and wait for their return, said the SCM source.