January 2015 will go down in maritime history as a very important dateline, particularly in the container shipping sector, where two new alliances comprising five of the largest shipping lines in the industry, were officially formed and launched.
Under the names the 2M Alliance, and the Ocean Three Agreement, Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) will join together in new vessel and slot sharing/purchase agreements, and CMA-CGM, together with United Arab Shipping Co (UASC) and China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL) will operate under a new combined service network.
The 2M Alliance will operate through a vessel sharing agreement structure, with a total capacity of 2.4m teu available on the major East/West trade lanes:
Transatlantic (North Europe/US)
Transpacific (Asia/US West coast)
Transpacific (Asia/US East coast)
The Ocean Three Agreement will cover exactly the same trade lanes and consequently offer:
Six weekly sailings on the Asia/North Europe trade, four on the Asia/Mediterranean trade, four to cover the Asia/US West coast trade, and two to cover the Asia/US East coast trade.
Both the 2M and Ocean Three follow closely on the heels of the establishment of the new look CKYHE Alliance, which adds Evergreen to the COSCO, K Line, Yangming and Hanjin grouping, and separately the setting up of the G6 Alliance, comprising the old-style Grand and New World alliances.
But the important factor of all these developments is that this is not a “closed shop” scenario whereby only the five lines are involved – on the contrary, other lines are also involved through various vessel and slot sharing/purchase agreements.
Yangming has once again been associated with the Ocean 3 service network, this time on the Asia/Black Sea trade.
Although Yangming will not officially become a member line of the Ocean 3 group, from mid-January, the line will drop its present joint service with China Shipping, Wan Hai and Pacific International Lines, and through a new deal, purchase slots on the Ocean 3 Black Sea Express known as the BEX service.
At present, Yangming has a vessel sharing agreement with CSCL/Wan Hai/PIL on the Asia/Black Sea Express (ABX) service covering: Shanghai, Ningbo, Shekou, Singapore, Port Kelang, Piraeus, Istanbul, Ilyichevsk, Constanza, Port Kelang, Shanghai. Deployment : 11 x 5,500 teu vessels.
But from mid-January, the line will join the new Ocean 3 BEX service as a slot purchaser to cover the Asia/Eastern Mediterranean trade. However, starting from the first westbound sailing from Dalian on January 16, Yangming will join the BEX service to cover: Dalian, Tianjin, Kwangyang, Pusan, Shanghai, Ningbo, Chiwan, Port Kelang, Beirut, Evyap, Istanbul, Constanza, Odessa, Ilyichevsk, Istanbul, Piraeus, Port Kelang, Dalian. Deployment : 11 x 9,000/10,600 teu vessels.
The Ocean 3 lines are to start deploying 10,000+ teu vessels on the BEX service during the first four months of 2015. CMA-CGM is expected to deploy the first of the 10,000+ teu vessels, the 10,662 teu CMA-CGM Loire from January 23, followed by sister vessels up until the end of April.
By the end of April, the BEX service deployment will comprise 11 x 9,000/10,600 teu vessels with at least six newly-delivered CMA-CGM vessels being in the 10,000+ teu capacity frame.
Eventually, the service is expected to deploy nine 10,600 teu CMA-CGM vessels, operating alongside slightly smaller 9,000 teu vessels deployed by UASC and/or CSCL.
Continuing on a very similar track, and also starting from mid-January, Evergreen will purchase slots on the new Ocean 3 Yangtze/AAS2/AWS1 service covering the Asia/US West coast trade.
Evergreen will market the service as the AAC3 service and the first scheduled eastbound voyage for Evergreen is planned for January 18 from Shanghai by the 8,530 teu Xin Ou Zhou. Service port rotation will be: Shanghai, Ningbo, Pusan, Los Angeles, Oakland, Shanghai.
Still on the transpacific trade, the Ocean Three agreement service portfolio is to be further strengthened by additional lines with a new vessel and slot sharing agreement starting in January between the Ocean Three lines and Pacific International Lines
(PIL) together with Yangming.
The two new co-operation agreements will involve the Ocean Three services
known as the AAS2/AWS1/PSW Loop 3 and the PNW Loop 5.
On the AAS2/AWS1/PSW Loop 3 service, the lines will operate six vessels covering: Shanghai, Ningbo, Pusan, Los Angeles, Oakland, Shanghai.
However, from January 2015, PIL and Yangming will also be involved as three of the six vessels deployed, will come from UASC, while the other three lines, CMA-CGM, Yangming and PIL will each provide one vessel.
On the PNW 5 Loop 5 service, deployment details have yet to be confirmed,
but it is understood that both PIL and Yangming will deploy capacity on this
service as well. So what outwardly seems a straightforward new alliance structure, is far from being just that.
By Paul Richardson
Sea Freight Correspondent | London