Matson launches new foreign flag service
by Michael Hansen, Hawaii Shippers Council, June 27, 2016
Matson Inc. (NYSE: MATX)’s press release issued on June 27, 2016, announces they are inaugurating a new container service based at Honolulu, Hawaii, and calling at five South Pacific Island ports before returning to Honolulu.
Matson named their service “South Pacific Express” (SPX) and will employ the geared time-chartered foreign-flag containership LILOA (Ex-REEF SAMOA, Built 2003, 513 TEU) in an every twenty-eight day service. The first voyage departs Honolulu on August 10, 2016. The LILOA is registered in the Caribbean country of Antigua & Barbuda.
Previously, the LILOA was employed in Matson South Pacific Ltd.’s service operating from Australian ports to several South Pacific destinations.
Matson South Pacific continues to operate two containerships in a weekly service from New Zealand ports (Tauranga and Auckland) to Fiji, the Samoas, Tonga, the Cook Islands, and Niue. The two ships are the Cook Island-registered Matson-owned OLOMANA (Built 1999, 521 TEU) and the Antigua & Barbuda-registered time-chartered IMUA II (Built 2005, 630 TEU).
Matson will seek to book cargo off the U. S. West Coast (USWC) to be transshipped over its Honolulu Terminal at Piers 51 – 54, Sand Island, Honolulu Harbor, via the new SPX service to South Pacific destinations in Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.
With this new service, Matson will be competing with several shipping companies offering direct services from the USWC to South Pacific Island destinations. Polynesia Line Ltd. offers an every four weekly service with the Maltese containership POLYNESIA (Built 2015, 1,100 TEU) to Tahiti, Tonga, and the Samoas. Hamburg Sud offers a complementary every four weekly service with the Singaporean CAP TAPUTAPU (built 2014, 1,102 TEU) on the same route but without calling at Tonga. Together, Polynesia Line and Hamburg Sud offer a fortnightly (every two weekly) joint service.
In addition, wire Shipping offers an every five weekly service to Fiji with a pair of multipurpose ships.
It will be interesting to see if Matson’s new transshipment service over Honolulu will be able to compete with the direct services.
Starting August 10, 2016, Matson's "South Pacific Express" (SPX) will for the first time link the company's well established West Coast - Hawaii service with its South Pacific network. Using a dedicated ship to carry West Coast cargo transshipped at Honolulu, SPX will provide reliable, same-day-of-week South Pacific arrivals every 28 days, calling on Apia, Samoa; Pago Pago, American Samoa; Nuku'alofa, Tonga; Suva, Fiji and Lautoka, Fiji before returning to Honolulu.
Matson's South Pacific Express will be the only direct service from Hawaii to the South Pacific and the fastest ocean carrier service between North America and the Samoas. The new service will also provide new links and associated economic opportunities among the islands it serves.
Along with competitive transit times from U.S. ports to the South Pacific, Matson's dedicated terminal operations on the West Coast provide shippers using the new SPX service with superior flexibility in cargo receiving any day of the week, faster truck turn times and Matson's extensive chassis inventory in U.S. ports.
Matson will redeploy a vessel in its existing South Pacific fleet, the internationally flagged 510-TEU* vessel Liloa, to operate the new service.