AAL and Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) are set to launch a joint Far East - Middle East multipurpose liner service.
The service is part of a global cooperation agreement that will see both carriers expand their trade route coverage, sailings frequency, and MPV fleet capacity, and also see the expansion of HMM's services portfolio via the global tramp solutions and semi-liner services provided by AAL.
Served by five multipurpose vessels, including four 30,100 dwt 640-class vessels from HMM and one 31,000 dwt A-Class vessels from AAL, the new service will sail on a bi-monthly schedule. Both carriers will remain independent and promote the expanded services under their own respective brands. The new service will connect the Asian markets of China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Singapore with the Middle East via both the Middle East Gulf and Red Sea routes.
Namir Khanbabi, chartering and operations director of AAL, explained: "By pooling our resources with HMM, we can each offer more comprehensive service portfolios with improved frequency, capacity, coverage and economies of scale for our customers. There will be no collaboration on pricing and we will each pursue bookings under our own respective brands, with separate commercial teams and bills of lading.
"The intention is to expand the service to six vessels, with an additional A-Class vessel by 2019. As more global projects become active in 2018 and multipurpose cargo volumes rise - as has been widely forecasted - we aim to be in pole position to competitively service this demand, whatever the cargo and wherever the destination."
HMM is also expanding its portfolio with a range of global tramp solutions and semi-liner services - connecting the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia - operated by AAL.
Seung-il Park, general manager of HMM, added: "There are no immediate plans for a more expanded cooperation but, should there be meaningful opportunities to generate further value for our respective customers through an expanded collaboration, this will be thoroughly reviewed as and when."
AAL says the agreement with HMM does not impact its existing Asia - East Coast Australia liner service, nor its space sharing cooperation with Swire Shipping on that trade route, which was established in 2015, as HLPFI reported here.