China United Lines (CULines) has become the second liner shipping “newcomer” to abandon the Asia-Europe trade.

The move comes as the company is seeking an early termination of charters of 12 traditional panamax boxships with compatriot Antong Holdings.

The carrier is to close its fortnightly Asia-Europe Express service, which was jointly operated by Taiwanese operator TS Lines, writes Alphaliner.

The last sailing will be offered this week with the 4,198-teu TS Singapore (built 2010), which is due to arrive in northern Europe in the first half of January.

The company is the second carrier to pull out of the Asia-Europe trade following the exit of UK-based Allseas Shipping Co in September.

CULines said its relatively small ships are no longer competitive in the Asia-Europe trade, according to Alphaliner.

The carrier will not exit all of the East-West trades and will maintain its service between China and the US west coast, it added.

CULines is looking to redeliver a series of vessels of between 4,100 teu and 4,700 teu to Shanghai-listed Antong.

They were initially chartered in March 2021 for a new Asia-Europe service, which was extended to the transpacific in July 2021, according to Linerlytica.

A Shanghai Stock Exchange announcement by Antong on 29 November said the termination request was necessary “in order to reduce the losses of both parties” on the two routes.

The early termination request relates to 12 vessels with the Ren Jian-prefix that are chartered to CULines for $52,000 per day.

The agreement was effective from 1 June 2022 and was supposed to expire in 34 months, on 1 April 2025.

Linerlytica said the developments doom a planned initial public offering by CULines on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, which the company announced last January.

It will also affect the listing prospects for TS Lines and LC Logistics, the parent company of BAL Container Lines, which have also filed to list in Hong Kong.