Business, Freight News, Sea

Global shipping lines join forces

[ June 18, 2013   //   ]

Three of the world’s major container shipping lines – CMA CGM, Maersk and MSC – are to join forces in a long-term operational alliance on East – West trades from next year. The P3 Network will operate a total vessel capacity of 2.6 million teu (initially 255 vessels on 29 loops) on three trade lanes: Asia – Europe, Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic.

In a statement, the lines said that while the P3 Network vessels will be operated independently by a joint vessel operating centre, the three lines will continue to have fully independent sales, marketing and customer service functions. Vessels contributed to the P3 Network will continue to be owned and/or chartered by the lines.

The new grouping brings together what were hitherto three of the world’s more stand-alone operators, whereas other lines have banded together in groupings such as the G6 and CKYH. However, the last few years have brought declining volume growth and over-capacity and have underlined the need to improve operations and efficiency in the industry.

Combining three lines into a single network will give customers with more stable, frequent and flexible services, say the partners. For example, the P3 Network plans to offer eight weekly sailings between Asia and Northern Europe and offer more direct ports too. It should also reduce the disruptions for customers caused by cancelled sailings, they say.

The joint operation is scheduled to start in the second quarter of 2014, but the starting date will be subject to obtaining the approval of relevant competition and other regulatory authorities and is subject to the lines agreeing on definitive contracts, finalisation and signing of which is planned for the fourth quarter of this year.

Maersk Line will contribute around 42% of the capacity, or 1.1 million teu, MSC 34% or 0.9m teu and CMA CGM 24% or 0.6m teu.

As far as the UK is concerned, currently, Maersk Line and MSC have a Felixstowe-based operation for both their Europe/Asia and Trans-Atlantic services. CMA CGM’s North American routes are also use Felixstowe but its Far Eastern services call at both Felixstowe and Southampton. By the time the P3 Network is introduced, the new London Gateway port should also be available.

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