Transfar Shipping, the shipping affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, will sell slots on its China-US West Coast/Mexico service to BAL Container Line, a privately owned Chinese liner operator.
Established in 2012, BAL was primarily a tonnage provider, but ventured into long-haul routes in May 2021, when the company launched Asia-Europe and Transpacific services.
However, sometime in mid-2022, BAL paused its Transpacific services to focus on its Asia-Central South America service, where it operates three 2,500 – 4,900 TEU ships.
Transfar, in which Alibaba has a minority stake, operates three 1,730 – 4,400 TEU on its Asia – US West Coast service, branded Ali Express. The service connects, Shanghai, Ningbo and Yantian to Long Beach and Oakland. In August, the Ali Express service will start adding calls to Manzanillo, Mexico.
The slot purchase agreement, filed with the Federal Maritime Commission this month, states that BAL can buy slots whenever it wishes, subject to availability.
Transfar also has Asia-US East Coast services but these are excluded from the slot sale agreement with BAL.
In June 2022, BAL ordered three 14,000 TEU ships from Jiangnan Shipyard, indicating the company is committed to long-haul routes.