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Spot freight rates tumbled for the 6th consecutive week as the SCFI shed a further 6% last week with more cuts still to come. Carriers failed to push through a mid-March rate increase, with hopes for an April rate hike also fading quickly.

Intra-Alliance rivalry remains in play, with THE Alliance to re-introduce 2 transpacific strings to the PNW and USEC in April, while ONE and Wan Hai forge a new partnership on the PSW that will start in May. These moves aims to re-assure customers that THE Alliance carriers will continue to offer a competitive transpacific product for the new contract season even with the departure of Hapag-Lloyd next year.

In contrast, OCEAN Alliance is scaling down its Asia-Europe presence with withdrawal of 1 string to North Europe from April in order to retain full coverage on its remain 6 service due to the tonnage shortage from the Red Sea diversions.

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OCEAN Alliance to drop North Europe service due to Red Sea crisis
The new OCEAN Alliance Day 8 network starting in April 2024 will drop one of the 7 Far East-Europe services that they current operate. The affected service is the Far East North Europe NEU3 service (branded respectively by COSCO/OOCL, CMA CGM and Evergreen as the AEU7/LL3/FAL7/NE7) calling at Xiamen, Nansha, Hong Kong, Yantian, Cai Mep, Singapore, Zeebrugge, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Port Klang, Singapore, Xiamen with the Med wayport calls at Piraeus omitted since January due to the diversion of the service to the Cape route.

The service is currently operated with only 8 ships from COSCO and OOCL of 9,000 teu to 21,000 teu deployed on a 14 week rotation, with 6 to 7 blanked sailings on each cycle. These ships will be phased out from the service over the next 2 months resulting in a 3.5% reduction in overall Asia-North Europe capacity.

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