Consumers, businesses hope new shipper will spur competition

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The entry of a third new shipping carrier in the Mainland to Hawaii market is sparking expectations of lower freight costs and increased service for businesses and consumers.

"It provides businesses in Hawaii and the public more choices, more options. They have more sailings, so it's really better for the community," said Gary North, Executive Director of the Hawaii Harbors Users Group.

On Thursday, TOTE Maritime announced it will launch the new Mainland to Hawaii service in 2020. The new service will employ up to four new container ships to compete with Matson and Pasha in the lucrative shipping route.

TOTE is owned by the same mainland parent as inter-island shipper Young Brothers and Aloha Air Cargo.

"I believe competition is good, it makes all of us more productive and efficient," said Steven Ai, president of City Mill.

Each year, City Mill brings in about 600 containers full of hardware and house ware products. Ai said the advantages of increased competition go beyond lower costs.

"It is not only price but do they communicate well with us? Are they helping us when things are tight?" he said.

"Sometimes things come in late and we need our (shipments) off first."

To sure, entry into the Mainland to Hawaii market will require tens of millions of dollars in investments. A new terminal and new cranes will be needed.

North said the state is already investing hundreds of millions to build a new container facility at Kapalama.

He said state had been working with Pasha as a potential tenant but TOTE now says it's talking with the state for space there.

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