Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) is getting ready to launch its first service from Asia, since it quit the trade after the collapse of Hanjin Shipping, deploying the smallest ships on the route.

While the carrier has yet to confirm the new service’s start date or port rotation, the news we are receiving suggest that the first sailing is April 7th from Busan, with the 4,728 TEU Hyundai Grace.

The suspected port rotation is Busan, Shanghai, Ningbo, Kaohsiung, Yantian, Singapore, Colombo, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Felixstowe, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Busan.

Reports on The Loadstar are that the South Korean carrier had “little option” other than to try to deploy its own tonnage as it was finding that its limited operational control as a slot charterer was putting it at a commercial disadvantage.

HMM’s Asia Europe Express (AEX) service will have a transit of 30 days to Europe and will operate outside of its ‘strategic cooperation agreement’ slot charter with the 2M alliance partners Maersk Line and MSC.

The AEX service will turn in 10 weeks and deploy 10 panamax vessels of 4,700 teu.

Running the service with small vessels potentially creates a cost disadvantage, but HMM’s plan will be to mitigate this by filling the ships and maximising the load factor.

HMM already operates a premium service on the trans-Pacific that charges 10-20% higher rates for faster and guaranteed service, so it is possible they will try to operate a similar pricing model for AEX.

HMM’s new Asia-Europe service comes as they prepare to place an order for 12 ships of 23,000 TEU, which will start to come on stream at the same time that their arrangement with the 2M Alliance is due to expire.