, 27 September, 2006 Global container transportation leader, APL, is set to enhance its coverage of the fast-growing trade between China and Australia with the launch of a new weekly service in partnership with ocean carriers Cosco and PIL.

The China Australia Service (CAS) will offer customers highly competitive transit times and direct connections between major destinations in both countries.

For example, the CAS offers direct calls at Qingdao, which is a major hub in the Bohai Bay area, as well as the Yangtze River Delta gateways of Ningbo and Shanghai. Moreover, the service also covers the primary Australian east coast destinations of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Chinas growth continues to exceed expectations and its trade with Australia is becoming increasingly important, said APL Greater China President, Dan Ryan. Calls at Qingdao and Ningbo provide fast access to all key Chinese production and sourcing locations. Also, our efficient relay service provides the CAS with reach to other core Asian markets such as Japan, Korea, Taiwan as well as the Americas.

The service, which is due to begin operations on 2 October, will deploy five ships each between 2,900-2,950 TEU capacity on a weekly loop. Importantly, the vessels will have significant refrigerated and climate-controlled cargo handling capabilities to service the growing demand for fresh produce in the trade.

Eng Aik Meng, APLs Senior Vice President for the Intra-Asia/Middle East and Australia trades, said: This enhanced service greatly strengthens our offering to importers and exporters in this increasingly critical trade lane. The CAS is part of our global commitment to offer our customers greater speed, efficiency and reliability.

Northbound benchmark transit times include Sydney to Chiwan in 20 days and Brisbane to Ningbo in just 15 days. In the other direction, Chiwan to Brisbane takes 17 days and Hong Kong to Melbourne transit time is 12 days.

For more information on the CAS and other APL services go to http://www.apl.com/services/