|Towards a new intermediate hub region in container shipping? Relay and interlining via the Cape route vs. the Suez route|
In: Journal of Transport Geography. Butterworth-Heinemann: Oxford. ISSN 0966-6923; e-ISSN 1873-1236
Container shipping; Vessel routing; Competition; Interlining; Suez Canal; Cape
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The Suez Canal plays a pivotal role in today’s global container shipping network, in particularly in accommodating vessels sailing on the important Asia–Europe trade lane. This paper analyses to what extent and for which trade lanes the Cape route could develop into a competitive alternative to the Suez route. The market potential of the Cape route is analysed using a distance analysis, a transit time analysis and a generalized cost analysis for a large set of O/D relations. We compare vessel interlining via the port of Algeciras with interlining via the new port of Ngqura in South Africa. The results show that the Cape route has the potential to serve as an alternative to the Suez route on 11 trade lanes. A scenario and sensitivity analysis reveals that interlining via a hub near the Cape is expected to become more competitive due to a combination of higher Suez Canal transit fees, better vessel economics, higher bunker costs, slow steaming practices and subject to a more competitive terminal pricing strategy of southern African transhipment facilities. The expected emergence of the Cape route should be seen as the embodiment of a promising development of south–south trade volumes between Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and South America.