19 May 2014

New shuttle service to ship boxes from Manila to Subic

A NEW service that will ship containers from Manila to Subic and vice versa could start operating in June.

The Subic Super Shuttle service will act as a common feeder for shipping lines serving locators and shippers in and around Northern Luzon.

“Since we cannot get [liner] connections directly from Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and Indonesia, the Subic Super Shuttle will get cargoes from Manila and bring them to Subic,” Subic Bay International Terminal Corp. (SBITC) General Manager Reimond Silvestre told PortCalls at the sidelines of the Transport Summit 2014. The summit was organized by the Philippine International Seafreight Forwarders Association and PortCalls.

“The Subic Super Shuttle is just a catalyst so that feeder vessels calling Manila will look at the Subic Port and see that they can do a direct call to Subic instead of discharging their cargoes in Manila,” he said, noting that as a catalyst service it may run for two years at the longest.

By then, shipping lines and shippers would have established the volume coming in and out of the area, possibly justifying the introduction of additional direct international liner services to and from Subic.

“The cargo is there. We’re just waiting for everybody in Northern Luzon to understand that they can use the Port of Subic,” he said.

While there seems to be a growing momentum to seriously consider Subic and also Batangas as alternative ports to Manila because of the effects of the Manila truck ban, the constant issue among shippers is the lack of shipping lines directly calling the areas.

To date there are only three international carriers directly calling Subic-NYK, APL and Swire Shipping.

Silvestre said the proposed shuttle service will use a 190 twenty-foot equivalent unit vessel which will call the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT)-Subic route three times a week.

MICT is operated by International Container Terminal Services Inc., the mother company of SBITC.

The shuttle service, Silvestre said, is a joint venture between Subic Super Shuttle Inc. and “a few companies” that SBITC supports, and is still subject to regulatory requirements from the Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Ports Authority and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

Asked if there are potential clients for the service, the SBITC executive replied, “When we started discussing this with a few key potential clients in Clark and Subic, we were only looking at big industrial players and big container generators in Northern Luzon.”

NestlĂ© is “committing their volume, Yokohama as well together with the Japanese accounts in Northern Luzon.

“In terms of costs, it will be competitive for them to realize that Subic can be their final destination point instead of Manila.”

As for other shipping lines, Silvestre said, “There are several interested but their issue is container imbalance”, which is why there is a “need for a common vessel service to solve that issue.”

There are also plans to put up an inland container depot somewhere in Bulacan to address the problem of where to store empty containers.

Silvestre noted there has been a 21-percent increase in volume at Subic Port this year.

Yokohama has increased its boxes out of Subic and so has Phillip Morris, he said. (www.portcalls.com)