EVERGREEN and Hanjin are to replace their former north Asian NAX partnership with ANL with a new direct, fixed-day weekly service targeting the Hong Kong/China east Asian market instead, reports Lloyd's List DCN in Sydney. The new NCA alliance will in include Hapag-Lloyd (Asia) as the third partner, with a first sailing from Pusan on May 22. The service will cover Pusan, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Kaohsiung, with the first inbound call in Sydnay, turning in Melbourne and returning via Brisbane. The former direct north Asian connection with Nax will be replaced with transhipment on other Evergreen and Hanjin services, and possibly a slot charter at a later date. The NCA service will use three 1,600-teu Evergreen units and one each of 1,700 teu from Hanjin and Hapag-Lloyd. The group is understood to have discussed a stevedoring contract with P&O Ports, which also stevedored former NAX operation. The NCA will be the second new East Asian service to launch next month. The Zim/PIL/APL Australia China Express (ACX) is also due to make its first sailing. The ACX Australian rotation runs in the opposite direction to the NCA service, making the first import call into Melbourne to cover the Victorian and South Australian markets before calling Sydney and Brisbane. Like the new Evergreen/Hanjin/Hapag-Lloyd operation, the new ACX is conservative on ship size and goes against past trends of upgrading with bigger ships - possibly reflecting the current difficulties of the charter market. The ACX will deploy five 1,500 teu units, two from Zim, two from PIL and one from APL. The new ACX operation will add around 78,000 teu in raw slot capacity a year to the east Asian trade, and NCA will add around 83,000 teu. These are both slightly smaller than the Cosco direct East Asian service, also shared with P&O Swire and the Japanese majors, but well behind the present OOCL/China Shipping operation shared with ANL.