THE new peak-season weekly shuttle between Singapore and Fremantle (4 September) will be jointly offered by Cosco Shipping Lines and its wholly-owned subsidiary OOCL.

Cosco originally announced ASAX on 28 August as a fortnightly service but last week said high demand had prompted it to upgrade to weekly frequency. The same day OOCL announced its own participation in the service, labelling it AWX.

The confluence of peak southbound volumes, severe weather conditions, and ongoing industrial unrest has induced the carriers to offer the new shuttle.

Initially Cosco indicated the first sailing ex Singapore would be by the 1740 teu Hansa Cloppenburg (IMO 9357860) on 10 September with arrival in Fremantle a week later. However, it now appears first sailing will be by a sistership, the 1740 teu Hansa Drakenburg (IMO 9357858), from Singapore on 17 September, with first arrival in Fremantle on 24 September. The ships will be serviced at the DP World Australia terminal.

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OOCL says the peak season service will supplement Fremantle calls (at Patrick) by its established AAX2 service to provide WA shippers with twice-weekly frequency. AWX/ASAX transit times will be seven days each way.

OOCL is already operating extra-loader services in the North & East Asia-Australia trade as part of its membership of the A3 consortium with Cosco and ANL, offering fortnightly China-Port Botany sailings that began last month and are projected to continue until mid-November, depending on demand.

The Hong Kong-based OOCL has also scheduled two China-Melbourne extra-loader trips by the 2180 teu Orea – the first due Melbourne 10 September – and one China-Port Botany-Brisbane voyage by the 2500 teu Baleares, which called at Port Botany late last week and is due Brisbane today (7 September).

Over recent months OOCL has also deployed the 1756 teu Nordtiger and 2180 teu Haris on southbound extra-loader voyages and to evacuate empty containers.

All carriers in Asian trades are currently moving empties back to load ports as rapidly as possible to meet extraordinary demand, especially in China.

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