Container shipping lines say deal will improve service to Asia.
Container shipping lines Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) have signed a 10-year vessel sharing agreement (VSA) called 2M. They say the new VSA will provide more efficient service on the Asia-Europe, trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific routes.
Both companies say the new agreement will replace all existing VSAs and slot purchase agreements that Maersk Line and MSC have on the three trade routes.
Earlier in 2014, the two shipping lines had tried to form a three-way agreement called the P3 Network with Marseille, France-based CMA CMG. Approval for that network to operate in China was rejected in mid-June by the Chinese government, however, based on concerns that the P3 Network would control nearly 50 percent of container vessel capacity on the Europe-to-China route.
The Maersk-MSC VSA will include 185 vessels with an estimated capacity of 2.1 million TEU (20-foot equivalent unit containers). The purpose of the cooperation is to share infrastructure (network) on the various trade routes, the two companies say. Maersk will contribute about 55 percent of the vessel space.
“I am very pleased with our agreement with MSC,"says Søren Skou, CEO of Denmark-based Maersk Line. "We share the same ambition to have as efficient and effective operations as possible. We will continue to provide our customers with competitive and reliable container shipping in the East-West trades at attractive prices. To do so we have to be innovative and take out cost while keeping a product that is best in class for our customers in terms of coverage, frequency and reliability."
“MSC is pleased to have reached this agreement with Maersk Line,” says Diego Aponte, vice president of Geneva, Switzerland-based MSC. “It represents another positive step in our continual drive to enhance our operational network in terms of scope, scale, efficiency and reliability.”
Aponte adds, “The 2M Vessel Sharing Agreement will enable us to achieve significant reductions in fuel consumption, driving down the carbon footprint of our shipping operations. With sustainability a key area of focus for MSC, we’re delighted that this vessel sharing agreement will mean major cuts in emissions while simultaneously enhancing our service to customers.”
Maersk and MSC say the 2M VSA differs from the earlier proposed P3 alliance in that the combined market share of the two companies is smaller and the new agreement represents “a pure VSA without any jointly owned independent entity with executional powers.”
Vessels deployed in the 10-year VSA will continue to be owned (or chartered) and operated by the two individual lines, say Maersk and MSC.
The VSA is expected to start in early 2015 with the starting date conditional upon approvals by relevant authorities.