Effective July, Maersk Line is to reorganise its Straits – Australia and New Zealand coverage with a thorough revisit of its combined ‘Northern Star’ and ‘Southern Star’ service, a butterfly loop organized around Tanjung Pelepas and Singapore. The two-loop pattern presently consists of alternating sailings from the Straits hubs to Australia and New Zealand’s North Island (northern wing) and to New Zealand’s Northern and Southern Islands (southern wing). A joint fleet of ten ships of about 2,800 teu maintains the service whereby the ships switch between the two wings after each round trip.
Maersk Line will now effectively separate the two wings of the butterfly into two distinct services, each operated by its own dedicated fleet. The move will go hand in hand with a notable increase in vessels size. The newly separated loops will not be exact copies for the northern and southern wings, as Maersk Line will incorporate some additional changes.
The new ‘New Zealand service’ will call at: Tanjung Pelepas, Singapore, Nelson, Wellington, Tauranga, Tanjung Pelepas. It will turn in six weeks and will be served by a fleet of 2,800+ vessels so far employed on the butterfly. It has yet to be confirmed whether five or six ships will be deployed. Unlike the former northern wing which called at Brisbane, there is no Australia call.
The new ‘Australia & New Zealand service’ will call at: Tanjung Pelepas, Singapore, Auckland, Brisbane, Lyttelton, Otago (Port Chalmers), Tanjung Pelepas. It will turn in five weeks and will be served by the Odense-built Maersk L-series of 4,500 teu baby-overpanamax vessels: LEDA MAERSK, LAUST MAERSK, LICA MAERSK, LAURA MAERSK, and LEXA MAERSK.
Maersk Line’s 4,500 teu Odense-L-type ships will be re-deployed from their previous assignment to the ‘ME4’, a West Med – Subcontinent service, which is currently in the process of being shut down, as cargo liftings are to be ensured by the up-gauged ‘ME2’.
While the Danish carrier thus found a new home for five of the 4,500 teu vessels in the New-Zealand trade, it has yet to announce the fate of the five displaced 2,800 teu units. Some of them might be re-assigned withn the Maersk network, temporarily idled, or returned to owners. The influx of the L-classes alone will result in a weekly capacity increase of about 1,700 teu on the Straits to Australia and New Zealand trade lane.