The G6 alliance has announced a new service using 10,000 teu vessels which will pass through the Panama Canal starting from this summer.
The NYX service will set sail from Qingdao, China, during week 23 of this year (week beginning June 6), heading to Ningbo, Shanghai and Busan before navigating the canal.
Vessels following similar sailings appear to take around three to four weeks between Qingdao and Panama, indicating the first NYX service should reach Panama in late June or early July.
The vessels will call at Manzanillo in Panama before continuing their course towards New York, Norfolk and Savannah and then turning back.
The expanded canal, which is set to be inaugurated on June 26, 2016, has begun accepting transit reservations for Neopanamax vessels for commercial transits starting on June 27.
The canal is offering four additional slots per day for Neopanamax vessels, in addition to the existing 25 slots of the current waterway.
The first reservation was granted to a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanker of Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK Line), represented by shipping agent Norton Lilly International (Panama). The vessel has a length of 755 ft and beam of 120 ft.
Once the first period of competition closed, 25 Neopanamax vessels had reserved transit through the new locks.
This initial phase of transit reservations corresponds to transit dates between June 27, 2016 and September 30, 2016.
The scheduled vessel arrivals appear to dispel speculation that the canal would not be ready to handle larger ships until much later in the year.
The president of shipping consultancy CK Americas, Michael Kaasner Kristiansen, had said that a “lack of clear communication” from Panamanian authorities left many sceptical of when the commercial opening date will actually be.
In a post on Linkedin in March 2016, he stated: “ACP has not inspired confidence in that the commercial opening will indeed take place in June 2016.”
“The shipping lines do not have the confidence to make firm re-deployment plans for 2016, taking advantage of the Panama Canal expansion. This is a lost opportunity to pull back 3-5 strings from the Suez Canal in 2016 but there should be focus on getting this done in 2017,” he added.