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February 2021 - AAL ">


AAL Shipping (AAL) is capitalising on the frequency of sailings it has operated in the past 12 months between Asia and the Americas, to commit tonnage and resources to strengthening the trade lane going forward into 2021.  With the recent experience of carrying a much broader portfolio of cargoes into Central America, USG and the USEC and having gained the trust of a growing customer base within the US, SEA and China, it is committing to a sailing a month and employing multiple vessel types from its young specialist MPV fleet.

Michael Morland, General Manager of AAL Americas and based in Houston, explained, ‘Our service connects South East Asia, Far East, USG and the US East Coast and we are well placed to service cargoes and parcels of any size. A lot of the smaller cargoes tend to be booked at origin in Asia, whereas project cargo often booked from within the US, like renewables into the US Gulf and Energy & LNG sector projects. This view is simplified but holds true in terms of a trend. We are however noticing a slow shift towards more project cargo influence from Asia.’

‘Despite a lot of experience on this trade lane, building the market to justify regular monthly MPP tramp sailings has taken time and hard work. Looking back a few years, volumes could not be relied on and we saw long-standing players pull out. We do not take our recent success for granted and are pleased with how well the market has taken to our service integrity. Our local market knowledge and presence – both in the US and Asia – coupled with a fleet well-suited for the trade allows for continued commitment and optimism.’

AAL’s fleet comprises various sizes of heavy lift MPP vessels, that offer cargo intake of up to 40,000 CBM and heavy lift of 700 t max. With two thirds of its vessels in the ‘mega size’ MPV segment (30,000+ DWT), AAL’s ability to parcel-up big and small cargoes of any type on frequent monthly sailings, as with the ‘Asia – Americas Trade Route’ offers significant economies of scale to all customers.

AAL foresees that the Biden administration will continue a strict line on trade with China but anticipates a more constructive dialogue that will lead to increased trade volumes between the two superpowers.  The Carrier also forecasts increased cargo volumes to South America.

Morland added, ‘As our service from Asia enters through the Panama Canal, we are seeing increased inquiries to North of South America and Central America. The deviation to discharge in these ports is not necessarily big, so we can be competitive when there are cargoes suitable. There are signs of investment in oil and gas, infrastructure and renewables, so we are in the perfect position to increase our fleet deployment into the region given the right opportunity.’


AAL Shipping (AAL) is marking the one-year anniversary of its ‘Europe – Middle East / India – Asia Monthly Liner Service’ with a long-term commitment to employing six ‘mega size’ (30,000+ DWT) heavy lift multipurpose vessels on the operation. The decision comes amid growing popularity for the service amongst large and small shippers from across Europe and the Middle East, able to parcel their project heavy lift, breakbulk, steel and general cargoes on AAL’s large tonnage vessels. Shipper demand has been amplified by the reliability of the scheduled monthly frequency provided by the 12-month-old service for forward planning operations, which has been a great success despite its launch coinciding with one of the most challenging periods for the global shipping community.

Eike Muentz, General Manager at AAL Europe, explained, ‘It would have been justified if we had simply postponed our plans at the time and waited-out the worst of the pandemic and its potential impact on cargo readiness, port delays and crew restrictions. However, we had already built momentum in the shipper market and established strong relations with important partners and base ports along the service like Antwerp, Porto Marghera, Dammam and Jebel Ali. Despite severe pressure on our operations due to international COVID-19 restrictions, we have performed every sailing as planned and scheduled from then until now.’

Kay Goldenstein, Commercial Manager at AAL Europe added, ‘customers were initially cautious, having witnessed other MPP carriers on the trade lane fail to deliver on commitments. The fact that AAL had run a successful liner service between Asia and Australia for 25 years and had direct recent experience of operating numerous sailings between Europe and Asia gave us the confidence and credibility to approach shippers across Europe and the Middle East. We established a presence in key hubs across Northern, Central and Southern Europe and got the word out quickly to interested partners with cargo needs. This developed into picking up breakbulk, steel and general cargo Eastbound – anything big or small – and parcelled these up with any project cargoes headed in the same direction.’

AAL made the decision early to deploy its young 31,000 DWT A-Class fleet on the service. These ‘mega-size’ vessels, supported by the carrier’s award-winning operations and engineering teams, are well-equipped to handle the diverse cargo profile required of a monthly liner service. Their clear weather deck space of 3,000 SQM combined with adjustable tweendecks and significant under deck volume make the vessels ideal for project heavy lift, general cargo, steel and bulk commodities as well as being equipped to carry every container size from 20ft to 53ft HC. Besides their 40,000 CBM cargo intake volume, they also feature HL cranes for units of up to 700 t.

Muentz concluded, ‘Running a liner service takes a significant commitment of resources and people working literally around-the-clock and right across the route to ensure that our six vessels are fully employed and that our customers of all sizes find a place for their cargo on the sailing they want and calling the ports they need. We want AAL to be the first port of call for our customers and that requires trust and dependability and we are confident that the service and our team is up to the challenge.’