MPA chief hopes to lure back Taiwanese line

September 19, 1990|By John H. Gormley Jr.

Brendan W. O'Malley, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration, will go to Taiwan early next month to submit a proposal to Yang Ming Line in hopes of luring the line back to Baltimore.

Mr. O'Malley confirmed yesterday that he will leave Oct. 1 on a one-week trip that will include talks with steamship lines in Europe, Hong Kong and Taiwan. He declined to say what lines he will visit in Europe orHong Kong but did say he will follow up on Gov. William Donald Schaefer's visit last month to Yang Ming officials in Taiwan.

In May 1988, Yang Ming decided to switch its mid-Atlantic operations from Baltimore to Norfolk, Va. When Yang Ming left, it was the eighth-most-important steamship line in the port with about 200,000 tons of cargo annually.

The line estimated that it would save about $1 million a year by dropping Baltimore in favor of Norfolk.Though the line may have reduced its operating costs, the move to Norfolk cost Yang Ming market share. The line is thought to be considering a return to Baltimore in hopes of regaining some of that lost business.

Luring Yang Ming back to Maryland would be a psychological boost to the port of Baltimore, which has suffered a steady loss of steamship lines and cargo to the Virginia ports of Hampton Roads.

"I hope we'll be able to bring back Yang Ming," Mr. O'Malley saiyesterday. "It would be very important."

In a talk to the Propeller Club in Baltimore last week, Mr. O'Malley reported that Yang Ming has a month-to-month lease in Norfolk, which would allow the line to sever its ties there quickly.

"We're offering what we hope will be compelling rates," Mr. O'Malley said then.

Mr. O'Malley is to be accompanied on the trip by Bruce Cashon, the MPA's director of marketing.

Mr. O'Malley accompanied Mr.Schaefer on his trip to the Far East in late August. During that trip, members of the trade mission also met with officials of Orient Overseas Container Line in Hong Kong, which ceased making direct ship calls to Baltimore about the same time Yang Ming did.

Mr. O'Malley would not say whether he plans to visit Maersk Line officials in Denmark. Maersk, the biggest line in the port of Baltimore, began diverting shipments late last year.

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