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Extraordinary times: Geodis charters ships to break Far East backlog

[ February 10, 2021   //   ]

The ultra-tight sea freight market from China to Europe prompted forwarder Geodis to go to extraordinary length of chartering its own vessels to move boxes from the Far East.

The first 1,000teu capacity vessel, operated exclusively by Geodis, is scheduled to arrive in Hamburg on 28 February, carrying 435 forty-foot containers for customers who have found it increasingly difficult to secure space with regular carriers at a viable rate. The vessel was the Uhl Faith, a German-owned F900 heavy-lift ship pressed into service as a container carrier.

The next sailing is scheduled to leave Shanghai around 10 February. Depending on demand, Geodis plans additional sailings over the coming weeks.

While freight forwarders involved in project cargo frequently charter their own breakbulk vessels, chartering containerships is almost unheard of, given the frequency and regularity of liner services in normal times. However, disruption to container services caused by Covid and other issues, coupled with soaring freight rates, has prompted shippers to look at alternatives.

Senior vice president global ocean freight, Matthias Hansen, said:  “We understand the current market challenges resulting from unprecedented customer demand and the limitations of ocean carrier capacity and sailings from China and other parts of Asia. We are working hard to find solutions for our customers.  Hence, this exclusive vessel charter to supplement fixed long-term agreements we have with core carriers.  We strive to deliver certainty to our customers amid the unstable market.”

Regional president and chief executive for Asia Pacific, Onno Boots, added: “These market forces have created variable and unforeseen spikes in demand for Asian. Our primary aim is to offer multi-modal solutions to our existing customers to enable them to ship on time and in a reasonably economic manner. As an adaptable and innovative service provider, Geodis is permanently looking for alternatives including rail, ocean and air products that fulfil this aim for shippers on the increasingly volatile Far East West Bound trade lane.”

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