For the second time in two weeks, a container shipping line is introducing Port of Oakland’s first-call service, according to the company’s release. The Port said that Taipei-based Wan Hai Lines will commence its new service here on August 8. Called the AA5, the route links Oakland with three Asian ports: Kaohsiung, Ningbo, and Qingdao. First calls are where shipping lines make their initial U.S. stop after sailing from Asia.
The Port’s announcement follows the July 27 launch of an Oakland-China first-call service operated by Matson Lines. The Port has now introduced three such services in 2021 after going years without a prized first-call. It attributed the trend to aggressive marketing and a burgeoning Northern California economy.
First-call ports are where container carriers discharge the bulk of U.S. imports. Importers value the first-call service because it provides more immediate access to cargo.
Until this year, Oakland-bound ships stopped first in Southern California before sailing north. With first-calls, the Port will likely break its all-time annual cargo handling record in 2021.
The Port said first-calls have strengthened Oakland’s position in the discretionary cargo market. Cargo destined for the U.S. interior can enter the country at any West, Gulf, or East Coast port. Discretionary containers are usually discharged at the first U.S. stop, then shipped inland via rail. Oakland said it has ample rail capacity to ship import loads to the interior.
The Port said importers increasingly target the Oakland trade gateway because Northern California consumer demand is strong. It added that e-commerce retailers have established distribution centers near the Port. The first-call service hastens delivery to consumers of goods produced overseas, the Port explained.