Monday, November 15, 2010

Horizon to Kick Off New China Inland US Express Service

Charlotte, NC-based ocean carrier Horizon Lines Inc. announced Monday that it will launch an express trans-Pacific container service to key inland US cities in December.

Named the Five Star Express, or FSX, the service will operate between the Chinese ports of Ningbo and Shanghai, and the Port of Los Angeles.

The service will rely on scheduled intermodal rail service at Los Angeles each week to reach key inland US cities. Horizon claims the service will offer some of the fastest inland transit times in the industry, including 15-day availability in Kansas City from Shanghai and 16-day availability in Dallas. The service will also take advantage of on-dock rail at the Los Angeles port, which reduces drayage fees, to offer express inland service to Charlotte, Atlanta, Memphis and Chicago.

The maiden FSX voyage is scheduled to depart Ningbo, China, on December 14, 2010, Shanghai on December 15, with a scheduled arrival in Los Angeles on December 26. According to Horizon, approximately 60 percent of the initial voyage is already subscribed, and the carrier continues to make steady progress toward a goal of 75 percent bookings for the first sailing.

"As other carriers reduce service locations and slow service speeds, US shippers continue to tell us they want fast and reliable service alternatives not only port-to-port, but inland to final destinations as well," said Brian Taylor, Senior Vice President of International Services at Horizon Lines. "At a time when US retailers are maintaining lower inventory levels and placing more logistics responsibilities on their manufacturing partners here in China, our Five Star Express service offers a fast and reliable transit schedule to keep supply chains running smoothly."

Horizon envisions expanding the inland express network to other US locations next year.

In addition to offering customers a trans-Pacific import alternative, Horizon believes the new Five Star Express service will allow the carrier to better accommodate an expanding military presence in Guam, where trade is expected to grow significantly in coming years.

Horizon is the nation's largest Jones Act carrier, operating a fleet of 20 leased or owned US-flag containerships and five port terminals which link the continental United States with Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Micronesia and Puerto Rico.