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Matson lowers rates

The shipping company drops it fuel surcharge to 21.75 percent, effective Sept. 12

By Kristen Consillio

POSTED:


Matson Navigation Co. is lowering its fuel surcharge for the second time in a row, representing a $100 to $150 reduction in shipping costs per container from the West Coast to Hawaii.

The state's largest ocean shipper is cutting the fuel surcharge by 3.75 percentage points, to 21.75 percent from 25.5 percent, effective Sept. 12.

It is the lowest surcharge since June 2009, when the fee was 20 percent, and comes on the heels of a 2 percentage-point decline to 25.5 percent on July 18.

Besides a recent decline in bunker fuel prices, Matson operates a nine-ship fleet, down from a 10- to 11-ship fleet several years ago, resulting in container ships that are more than 90 percent full and thereby collectively burn less fuel, according to Matson spokesman Jeff Hull.

FUEL COSTS EASING

Matson Navigation Co. announced yesterday it is lowering its fuel surcharge for the second consecutive time:

Feb. 4, 2008 31.5%
April 6, 2008 33.75%
July 13, 2008 38.25%
Aug. 31, 2008 42.25%
Sept. 21, 2008 37.50%
Oct. 12, 2008 33.0%
Oct. 19, 2008 27.0%
Nov. 2, 2008 25.0%
Nov. 16, 2008 19.5%
Nov. 30, 2008 15.0%
May 24, 2009 16.5%
June 21, 2009 20.0%
July 5, 2009 28.0%
Oct. 4, 2009 24.0%
Feb. 7, 2010 27.5%
July 18, 2010 25.5%
Sept. 12, 2010 21.75%

"We adjusted our fleet size to adapt to the economic downturn and that helps improve vessel utilization," he said.

Matson also said it is reducing its fuel surcharge for its Guam/Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Micronesia service by 3.75 percentage points, to 23.25 percent from 27 percent, on the same day.

Representatives of Horizon Lines didn't respond to calls for comment, but Hawaii's second-largest ocean shipper typically matches Matson's surcharge adjustments.

Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines, which carries vehicles between Honolulu and San Diego, likely will match Matson's decrease early next week, according to General Manager Reggie Maldonado.

Overall oil prices have been falling since April due to concerns that the United States' economic recovery appears to be slowing, according to economist Carl Bonham, executive director of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization.

"Price movements associated with energy costs have been a big piece of overall Honolulu inflation," he said.

"In a nutshell, the declining surcharge is obviously a good thing because it helps to hold down the price of everything we purchase."

PRICES HEADING DOWN

Here's how the decrease will affect various commodities:

12-ounce canned beverage
» Decrease: $108 per 40-foot container (51,744 cans per container) or 2/10 cent per can

Head of lettuce
» Decrease: $168 per 40-foot container (24,000 heads per container) or 7/10 cent per head of lettuce

TWO-BY-FOUR lumber
» Decrease: $68 per 40-foot flat rack (3,550 units per flat rack) or 1.92 cents per two-by-four

Rice, 20-pound bag
» Decrease: $79 per 40-foot container (2,280 20-pound bags per container) or 3.46 cents per 20-pound bag

Shipping autos
» The cost between the West Coast and Hawaii will remain unchanged at $1,072






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