Freight & Cargo Service Providers in the Australian Market: What Are Your Options in 2021?

Shipping across the globe offers a range of options to suit your needs. For importers and exporters, there are many different shipping lines and airlines which cover different markets. When working with a freight forwarder such as International Cargo Express, we’ll review your requirements and recommend a service that suits your needs. To give you further insight, below we provide an overview of some of the top Cargo Service Providers in Australia and what they offer you as an importer or exporter.

It’s important you engage with your freight forwarder about your options prior to shipping, as many routes and prices are subject to change without notice.

Top 10 Container Shipping Lines

If you’re eager to start shipping your goods by sea, your cargo may move with one or more of these cargo service providers’ shipping lines.

1. Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC)

Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) cargo ship in Sydney Australia

Founded in 1970 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) is a privately-owned organisation run by the Aponte family. A world leader in container shipping, MSC evolved from a one vessel operation into a globally respected business with a fleet of 560 vessels and over 70,000 staff.

MSC calls at 500 ports on 200 trade routes, carrying some 21 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) every year.

MSC offers a range of services into and out of Australia some of the more popular services include:

  • Oceania Loop 1: This loop offers coverage from Australia and New Zealand to US West Coast and Canada.

Sydney – Melbourne – Adelaide – Tauranga – Oakland – Seattle – Vancouver – Long Beach

  • Oceania Loop 2: Oceania loop 2 provides weekly direct service to Cristobal and US East Coast.

Sydney – Melbourne – Port Chalmers – Napier – Auckland – Tauranga – Cristobal – Philadelphia – Charleston – Balboa – Tauranga

Rotation 1: South China to Australia

Xiamen – Nansha – Hong Kong – Yantian – Melbourne – Sydney – Brisbane – Xiamen

Rotation 2: Central China to Australia

Ningbo – Shanghai – Yantian – Sydney – Melbourne – Brisbane – Ningbo


CMA CGM cargo ship in Sydney Australia

The CMA CGM Group was founded in 1978 and is currently headquartered in Marseille, France. It boasts many well-known subsidiaries across the world including American President Lines (APL) and the CHENG LIE Navigation Company (CNC Line).

CMA are present in 160 countries, have around 110,000 employees with a 502-vessel strong fleet and operate across 420 ports around the world. They’ve transported around 21.6 million TEUs, with a fleet slot capacity of 2.705 million TEUs.

They offer eight services in Australia, including:

  • AAX (Jakarta – Singapore – Port Kelang – Fremantle – Sydney – Melbourne – Adelaide –  Fremantle – Jakarta);
  • ANZEX ANL (Hong Kong – Keelung – Shanghai – Ningbo – Shekou – Kaohsiung – Brisbane – Auckland – Lyttelton – Wellington – Napier – Tauranga – Hong Kong)
  • APR ANL (Port Klang – Singapore – Jakarta – Lae – Kimbe  – Rabaul – Motukea Island – Townsville – Port Klang)
  • KIX (Port Kelang – Singapore – Brisbane – Auckland – Lyttleton – Wellington – Napier –  Tauranga – Brisbane – Singapore – Port Kelang);
  • New North Europe Med Oceania (North Europe – Mediterranean Sea – Australia – South Asia – Indian Sub Continent);
  • Panama Direct Line (connects Europe and the U.S. East Coast with Australia, New Zealand and the islands in the South Pacific);
  • PAX (Singapore – Darwin – Dili – Singapore); and
  • Trans (Sydney – Melbourne – Auckland – Lyttelton – Nelson – Welloington – Tauranga – Sydney)

3. Hamburg Süd

Hamburg Süd vessel

Hamburg Süd is one of the largest shipping brands in the world, founded way back in 1871. The company is based in Hamburg, Germany and since the year 2017, it has been owned by Maersk (which we discuss more below).

Hamburg Sud has 8 services for the Australian market. For a downloadable schedule of all their services, you can visit their website here.

4. Hapag Lloyd

Hapag Lloyd cargo ship

Founded in 1970, Hapag-Lloyd AG is a global shipping and transportation company based in Hamburg, Germany. With 239 modern ships, 13,000 employees, across 129 countries, it carries 12.0 million TEU every year. Their fleet capacity offered is 1.7 million TEU will a container stock of 2.6 million TEU.

Their main services to and from Australia include:

  • South East Asia – Australia Service (SAL)

Jakarta – Port Kelang – Singapore – Brisbane – Sydney – Melbourne – Adelaide

  • China Australia Taiwan/China Service (CAT)

Shekou – Kaohsiung – Sydney – Melbourne – Brisbane

  • North East Asia Australia Express (NAX)

Busan – Qingdao – Ningbo – Shanghai – Yantian – Sydney – Melbourne – Brisbane

  • New Zealand Express (NZX)

Shanghai – Ningbo – Hong Kong – Shekou – Kaohsiung – Brisbane – Auckland – Port Chalmers – Lyttelton – Napier – Tauranga

  • South East Asia Australia Loop 2 (SEA)

Laem Chabang – Tanjung Pelepas – Singapore – Port Kelang – Fremantle – Adelaide – Melbourne – Sydney – Brisbane

  • South East Asia Australia Loop 3 (S2A)

Tanjung Pelepas – Port Kelang – Singapore – Brisbane – Sydney – Melbourne – Adelaide – Fremantle

  • Australia-New Zealand via Panama (ANP)

Philadelphia – Charleston – Cartagena – Balboa – Auckland – Sydney – Melbourne – Port Chalmers – Napier

  • North America Westcoast – New Zealand/Australia (WSN/PNW)

Oakland – Seattle – Vancouver – Long Beach – Auckland – Sydney – Melbourne – Adelaide – Tauranga

5. Maersk

Maersk cargo ship in Sydney Australia

Maersk is based in Copenhagen, Denmark with offices in 130 countries. It is a family business run by the Møller family through a variety of holding companies. Founded in 1904 as the Svendborg Steamship Company by captain Peter Mærsk Møller and son Arnold Peter (A.P.) Møller, the company has grown to become the largest container shipping operator in the world.

Maersk operates seven services to and from Australia, including:

  • Cobra (Tanjung Pelepas to Brisbane);
  • Dragon (Yokohoma to Hong Kong via Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne);
  • J Star OCE (Aomi Container Terminal to Tauranga via Brisbane)
  • Komodo (Jakarta to Fremantle);
  • OC1 Northbound (Sydney to Charleston (north);
  • OCA Southbound (Philadelphia to Melbourne); and
  • Southern Star Southbound (Tanjung Pelepasto to Port Chalmers via Brisbane and Sydney)

6. Cosco

Cosco Shipping Lines is a leading container shipping service provider, with a global fleet of 288 ships, calling over 192 ports in more than 64 countries and regions. 84 of their ships are larger than 8,000 TEUs, with a total capacity of about 1.6 million TEUs.

Routes offered for Australia include:

  • A3N (Yokohama – Osaka – Busan – Qingdao – Shanghai – Kaohsiung – Melbourne – Sydney – Brisbane – Yokohama);
  • A3C (Xiamen – Shanghai – Ningbo – Sydney – Melbourne – Brisbane – Kaohsiung – Xiamen);
  • A3S (Xiamen – Shekou – Hong Kong – Sydney – Melbourne – Brisbane– Xiamen);
  • ASAL (Jakarta – Port Kelang – Singapore – Brisbane – Sydney – Melbourne – Adelaide – Jakarta);
  • AAA2 (Jakarta – Port Kelang – Fremantle – Melbourne – Adelaide – Jakarta); and
  • AAAI (Laem Chabang – Singapore – Brisbane – Sydney – Melbourne – Fremantle – Singapore – Laem Chabang)


Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) in Australia

Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) is the trading name for Orient Overseas Container Line Limited and OOCL (Europe) Limited. Both companies are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas (International) Limited. Cosco shipping lines owns a majority stake in OOCL and therefore some of the same services are offered by both shipping lines.  

They operate in over 140 offices across 40 countries and regions around the world, offering a range of 3PL, 4PL, and Omni-Channel solutions.

OOCL run nine routes to and from Australia as follows:

  • A3S (35 Days): Sydney to Hong Kong (Northbound), Xiamen to Brisbane (Southbound)
  • A3N (42 days): Melbourne to Kaohsiung (Northbound), Yokohoma to Brisbane (Southbound)
  • A3C (42 days): Sydney to Shanghai (Northbound), Kaohsiung to Brisbane (Southbound)
  • AAA1 (35 days): Melbourne to Laem Chabang (Northbound), Laem Chabang to Brisbane (Southbound)
  • AAA2 (35 days): Sydney to Port Kelang (Northbound), Singapore to Adelaide (Southbound)
  • ASA (35 days): Brisbane to Singapore (Northbound), Jakarta to Adelaide (Southbound)
  • NZS (42 days): Auckland to Singapore (Northbound), Port Kelang to Tauranga (Southbound)
  • CNS (49 days): Brisbane to Shanghai (Northbound), Shanghai to Tauranga (Southbound)
  • JKN (42 days): Brisbane to Hong Kong (Northbound), Tokyo to Tauranga (Southbound)

8. Pacific Asia Express

c(PAE) is a subsidiary of Singapore-based Pacific International Lines (PIL) and is the company’s Australian representative.

It covers the entire country with offices at all major Australian ports and also in Darwin, Townsville, Launceston and Mildura. PIL boast about 190 container vessels, moving general and reefer containers, break bulk, flat racks, open top and others.

PAE operate six schedules to Australia, namely:

  • PIL – Northbound Sailing Schedules

AA1 Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane to South East Asia                

AA2  Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Fremantle to South East Asia                         

AA3 Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide to Jakarta                            

SAS East Coast direct to China and Hong Kong                             

STA  East Coast direct to China and Taiwan                    

  • PIL – Trans Tasman / New Zealand Sailing Schedules

NZS Brisbane to Auckland, Lyttelton, Wellington, Napier, Tauranga                    

NCS  Brisbane to Auckland, Port Chalmers, Lyttelton, Napier, Tauranga                             

  • PIL – Southbound Sailing Schedules

AA1  South East Asia to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne               

AA2  South East Asia to Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney                        

AA3  Jakarta to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide                           

NZS  South East Asia to Brisbane                         

SAS  Direct – China, Hong Kong to East Coast                 

STA  Direct – China, Taiwan to East Coast                        

NCS  Direct – China, Hong Kong, Taiwan to Brisbane                   

  • PIL – Coastal Service Schedule

AA2  Sydney and Melbourne to Fremantle                     

  • Mariana – Australian Sailing Schedules

ANA (Asia – Northern Australia)  Northbound ANA / Southbound ANA / Dili PNG                 

MXS (Micronesia Express)  MXS / EMS / MSP                           

  • TFS – Oceania Schedule

TFS  Japan to Australia & New Zealand

9. Evergreen

evergreen group shipping line

The Evergreen Group was formed in 2007, when the five shipping companies Evergreen Marine Corp. (Taiwan) Ltd., Italia Marittima S.p.A., Evergreen Marine (UK) Ltd., Evergreen Marine (Hong Kong) Ltd. and Evergreen Marine (Singapore) Pte Ltd. joined forces.

Together, their combined capacity is around 1.2 million TEU, operating many trade lanes across the world. They emphasise corporate social responsibility as a defining factor of their brand, increasingly using environmentally friendly container ships to transport cargo internationally.

For Australia, Evergreen offer a:


10. Ocean Network Express

Ocean Network Express shipping line

ONE is a relatively new shipping company, having been formed in 2016 as a joint venture between Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK), Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) and K Line.

The container shipping divisions of each company soon merged, ranking sixth in the world for vessel capacity as of January 2020 with a fleet size of 1,590,000 TEU. The company boasts 224 vessels with a service network covering more than 120 countries.

To and from Australia, ONE operates the following services:

  • AUE: Australia East Asia Service (Pusan – Qingdao – Ningbo – Shanghai – Yantian – Sydney – Melbourne – Brisbane – Pusan)
  • CAE: China Australia East Services (Xiamen – Nansha – Hong Kong – Yantian – Melbourne – Sydney – Brisbane – Xiamen)
  • AU1: Australia Service 1 (Tanjung Pelepas – Port Kelang – Singapore – Fremantle – Adelaide – Melbourne – Sydney – Brisbane – Tanjung Pelepas)
  • AU2: Australia Service 2 (Jakarta – Tanjung Pelepas – Port Kelang – Singapore – Brisbane – Sydney – Melbourne – Adelaide – Fremantle – Jakarta)
  • AUN: Australia North-East Asia Service (Yokohoma – Osaka – Pusan – Qingdao – Shanghai – Ningbo – Hong Kong – Sydney – Melbourne – Brisbane – Hong Kong – Yokohama)
  • WAU: West Australia (Singapore – Fremantle – Singapore)
  • NZJ: New Zealand Japan (Tokyo – Kobe – Pusan – Shanghai – Yantian – Hong Kong – Brisbane – Auckland – Lyttleton – Napier – Tauranga – Tokyo)
  • NZ1: New Zealand Feeder 1 (Tanjun Pelepas – Singapore – Brisbane – Sydney – Tauranga – Auckland (via rail) – Naier – Lyttleton – Tanjung Pelepas)

Top 10 Freight Airlines

If you need to move your cargo a little quicker than sea freight, you may want to consider airfreight solutions. Below are some of the top air freight and cargo service providers the Australian market has to offer.

1. Emirates SkyCargo

Emirates Airways Cargo

Emirates SkyCargo boast the “youngest and most efficient wings in the sky”, with an aircraft age average of 5.7 years.  The airline has over 12 dedicated freighters with 270 wide-bodied aircraft, including the:

  • Airbus A380-800; and
  • Boeing 777-300; and
  • Boeing 777-F.

The airline is working with the Australian government’s International Freight Assistance Mechanism to assist Australian exporters, stating that they’re “currently serving Sydney with four weekly flights on our Boeing 777 freighter aircraft and Melbourne with five weekly flights on our Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft”.

2. Cathay Pacific Cargo

Cathay Pacific Cargo

Cathay offer a range of services such as priority cargo, special cargo and cargo charter solutions. They boast a range of wide-bodied aircraft including the:

  • Boeing 747-8F; and
  • Boeing 747-400ERF.

They own 20 aircraft and operate to over 40 destinations.

3. Qantas Freight

Qantas Freight

Qantas Freight is responsible for all of Qantas’ freight operations, offering three types of options:

  • Q-GO Priority – when your goods must go on a flight of the highest priorit;
  • Q-GO Express – when your cargo must go quickly; and
  • Q-GO Classic – Qantas Freight’s traditional service for transporting cargo.

The airline carries a range of different aircraft types including the:

  • Airbus A330-200;
  • Airbus A330-300;
  • Airbus A320;
  • Airbus A321;
  • Airbus A380-800;
  • BAE 146-300 Freighter;
  • Boeing B737-300 Freighter;
  • Boeing B737-800 PAX;
  • Boeing B747-400;
  • Boeing B767-300 Freighter;
  • Boeing B747-8 Freighter; and
  • Boeing B787-900.

4. Thai Cargo

Thai Cargo

Thai Cargo is the cargo arm of Thai Airways, and operates a range of cargo services including:

  • TG Cool and Carry – for products requiring consistent temperature control (such as meat, fish and cheese);
  • TG Fresh – for transporting perishables;
  • TG Force – for urgent airport-to-airport deliveries (such as important documents); and
  • TG Kool – for shipping cool items requiring temperature control.

5. Air China Cargo

Air China Cargo

Air China Cargo Co., Ltd. is Air China’s all-cargo subsidiary, operating freighter services to 10 countries across the world based at Beijing Capital International Airport. As of late 2019, Air China Cargo had 15 freight aircraft in their fleet including the Boeing 747-400F, Boeing 757-200PCF and the Boeing 777F.

The airline offers numerous international solutions including:

  • Priority Space Access (for shipments up to 500kg and 3MC);
  • Express Handling; and
  • Higher Loading Priority.

6. Etihad Cargo

Etihad airfreight cargo

Etihad Cargo, established in 2004, is the freight wing of Etihad Airways, flying to over 130 destinations across the world. Their fleet is relatively young, with their dedicated freighters consisting of the Boeing 777-200F (as well as storing cargo in the belly of over 100 aircraft).

They offer a variety of different freight services including:

  • PharmaLife – for transporting pharmaceutical goods;
  • FreshForward – for transporting goods like flowers, fresh fruit, meat and vegetables;
  • SkyStables – for transporting horses;
  • LiveAnimals – for transporting your beloved pets
  • FlightValet – for transporting high-value vehicles;
  • FlyCulture – for transporting paintings, sculptures and musical instruments;
  • SafeGuard – for transporting valuable goods like jewellery;
  • Mail & E-Commerce; and
  • Dangerous Goods.

7. Delta Cargo

Cargo Service Providers Australia - Delta Cargo

U.S.-based Delta Cargo operates many wide-body and narrow-body aircraft, ranging from B767s and A330s to A350s and B717s. The airline offers a range of freight services including:

  • Express freight (to deliver goods quickly);
  • Standard freight (to deliver goods economically);
  • Speciality (for handling specialised cargo); and
  • Added Service (a tailored service if your goods require particular treatment).

You can also make inquiries about charter flights so you can get your cargo shipped on dedicated freight aircraft.

8. Singapore Airlines

Cargo Service Providers Australia- Singapore Airlines

SIA Cargo operates both a dedicated freighter fleet of aircraft and passenger aircraft with belly-hold cargo capacity. They have over 900 flights a week on offer from Singapore and can fly to over 100 destinations.

The airline operates many services including:

  • Airmail
  • Parxl (and end-to-end freight platform run by SIA)
  • Charter Services
  • Aerospace
  • Dangerous Goods
  • Live Animals
  • Perishables
  • THRUCOOL (for transporting pharmaceutical cargo requiring temperature control)
  • Swiftrider®
  • Valuable Cargo.

9. Qatar Airways Cargo

Cargo Service Providers Australia- Qatar Airways Cargo

Qatar Airways Cargo boasts a multitude of aircraft types in their fleet including the A380, A330, B747F and the B787. Only just recently, the airline placed the 787-9 into service, operating to Kuwait, London, Mumbai, and Paris. The airline offers an extensive range of air freight products and services including:

  • QR Pharma;
  • QR Fresh;
  • QR Live;
  • QR Charter;
  • Premium Services; and
  • QR Mail.

10. Eva Airways Cargo

Cargo Service Providers Australia - Eva Airways Cargo

EVA Air Cargo have many different types of aircraft in their fleet, using the Boeing 777F as their dedicated cargo aircraft. Their products include:

  • XPS – the airline’s express handling service;
  • Pro – priority space access; and
  • EVA Pharmacare – the airline’s partnership with Envirotainer to transport high-value goods including pharmaceuticals and vaccines

The airline also offers services for transporting live animals and dangerous goods.

How is COVID-19 impacting air freight?

COVID-19 has significantly impacted air cargo capacity – airlines have recently been stretched to their limits and cargo backlogs have become astonishingly high.

With border closures all around the world and the falling demand for passenger travel, passenger aircraft with bellyhold capacity has been effectively forced out of the air.

This, combined with increasing demand internationally for face masks and PPE, has resulted in skyrocketing prices for air freight solutions. We’ve seen importers and exporters make the shift to either ocean freight or air-sea solutions (a combination of both air and sea freight) as a result, in an effort to save on supply chain costs.

Making your booking: expert freight forwarders

If you’re interested in making a booking with one of the above airlines or shipping lines:

  1. Engage in an expert freight forwarder such as International Cargo Express so you can understand all the options available to you;
  2. Engage in an expert freight forwarder such as International Cargo Express so you can understand all the options available to you;
  3. Engage in an expert freight forwarder such as International Cargo Express so you can understand all the options available to you;
  4. Engage in an expert freight forwarder such as International Cargo Express so you can understand all the options available to you;

If you’ve got any questions or would like to know more information about freight and cargo service providers in the Australian market, including what’s best for you in 2021, please contact one of our friendly team on 1300 227 461 or leave a comment below.

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Sunrise Mumbai

Some freight forwarders have their own warehouses and vehicles, they aren’t necessarily the ones to carry out the transportation. Usually, they are the experts that are able to lead on the logistics and arrangements that will enable a smooth


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What Others Are Saying About International Cargo Express

Managed goods end to end

Due to critical stock levels we needed a fast solution to urgently meet growing client demand. Presented with this challenge, ICE quickly identified appropriate freighter services and proactively managed the movement of goods end to end.

Eddie Liaw – Supply Chain Director

ICE offered flexibility

ICE offered flexibility, high levels of communication and attention to detail during our pick, pack and delivery project. With their professional support we were able to meet the demands of our supply chain knowing our freight was in safe hands.

Tony Kealy – National Distribution Manager

Without exception and on time

Since having International Cargo Express handle my ocean freight , I have had my bookings and equipment available without exception and on time. Communication between ICE and my supplier is very good and I receive information via my shipper before my supplier.

Michael Caiacob – Purchasing and Supply Officer

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