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Matson cuts fuel fee by 4 percentage points


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POSTED: Thursday, October 01, 2009

Some consumers will find it a little cheaper to ship goods between Hawaii and the mainland beginning Sunday.

Matson Navigation Co., the state's largest ocean shipper, said yesterday it is decreasing its fuel surcharge by 4 percentage points, to 24 percent from 28 percent, for its Hawaii-mainland service due to recent declines in bunker fuel prices.

In addition, Matson is lowering its fuel surcharge for service between the mainland and Guam/Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, as well as to Micronesia, to 25.5 percent from 29.5 percent.

For most customers, the decreases will represent savings in shipping costs ranging from $100 to $150 per container.

The decreases follow three straight increases, the latest of which was an 8 percentage-point increase on July 5.

“;While we were able to make six consecutive decreases in 2008, the trend moved back upward in 2009,”; said Dave Hoppes, Matson senior vice president of ocean services. “;Matson has made a practice of giving 30 days' notice of rate adjustments; however, we are once again passing on this decrease to our customers as soon as possible so that they can quickly realize the benefits of this reduction during this difficult economic environment.”;

Horizon Lines, the state's second largest ocean shipper, typically matches Matson but was unavailable for comment. In August, Horizon announced it was increasing its Hawaii-mainland fuel surcharge 5 percentage points to 33 percent, effective Sept. 27, but Horizon later rescinded the planned increase and remained at 28 percent after Matson failed to match.

Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines, which carries vehicles between Honolulu and San Diego, currently has a fuel surcharge of 22.5 percent and said it was studying Matson's decrease.

Matson and Horizon fuel surcharges for Hawaii-mainland service peaked at 42.25 percent on Aug. 31, 2008, before declining six consecutive times and reaching 15 percent on Nov. 30, 2008.

The surcharges then rose three straight times before Matson broke the streak with yesterday's announcement.