New alliance detail delay causes shippers, port headaches
Bruce Barnard, JOC Special Correspondent | Feb 20, 2017 11:12AM EST
The lack of detail in the schedules of the two mega-carrier alliances launching on April 1 is causing “planning headaches” for ports and shippers, according to Drewry Shipping Consultants.
“Not much more about the two new networks – Ocean Alliance and THE Alliance – is known since the original announcements were made in early November, which is giving some industry stakeholders cause for concern,” the London-based consultancy said.
While the alliance carriers have since updated details, crucial bits of information are missing – the days of the week for the port calls and the size ships to be deployed by service, according to Drewry’s Container Insight Weekly published on Sunday.
French carrier CMA CGM, a member of the Ocean Alliance, has just updated its online brochure with more information with most services now showing the terminal alongside days of the week and berthing/departure times. There is less information available, however, for the Asia-Med and Asia-Middle East services.
Without this information it is very difficult for ports and terminals to properly plan their future workloads, Drewry said.
“It can be assumed that after discussions and negotiations with carriers they have better knowledge of what the finished alliances’ products will look like, but other important stakeholders in the supply chain, such as truckers, railroads and shippers are probably to be at the back of the queue when it comes to accessing this vital information.”
Drewry said neither Hapag-Lloyd, a member of THE Alliance, nor CMA CGM, responded before publication of this week’s Container Insight Weekly to its questions on the reasons for the delays, nor when announcements on the ports, days of the weeks and vessel deployment can be expected.
Certain key customers of THE Alliance have been privately kept up to date on schedules that specifically affect the movement of their goods, Drewry said, quoting an anonymous source.
“It is difficult to know what to make of the tardy delivery of information to the market. It could simply be a case of brinkmanship between the carriers and the ports/terminals to get the best THC rates, but there is a serious risk to leaving it too long as they might not get their preferred windows, or indeed their preferred port or terminal.”
This would have operational ramifications on each company’s wider networks that link to the mother vessels, and could have a commercial cost if shippers don’t like the day of the week the vessel is calling.
The members of THE Alliance may have been distracted by recent events, with Hapag-Lloyd in the process of merging with UASC, the top three Japanese carriers in the early stages of combining their container operations in 2018, and Taiwan’s Yang Ming occupied with restoring its financial health and fighting off merger rumours.
Meanwhile, the 2M carriers – Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co. – can capitalize on the delays of its rivals and their own relatively settled network – which is also undergoing changes due to the slot charter deals with HMM and Hamburg Sud – to their advantage.
“For whatever reasons the introduction of the two new alliances has not been plain sailing and some immediate disruption from April 1 seems inevitable,” Drewry concluded.
“Ports and terminals should privately have a fairly good idea of what they are going to get, if they get it, but it’s the shippers who are very much in the dark, and probably other supporting players like truckers and railroads.”
ILA plans to shut down East Coast and Gulf Coast ports, march on Washington
- The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) called for a shutdown of U.S. East and Gulf Coast ports and a daylong march on Washington, D.C., to protest the loss of longshoring jobs and its effect on the economy, according to a press release published on The Maritime Executive. A date will be announced next week.
- The ILA has yet to publish the press release on its website, drawing doubts over whether the protest was officially sanctioned, according to American Shipper. However, further reporting by the magazine found the protest may be held in the next 30 days, and according to one ILA leader in Charleston, SC, was sanctioned.
- The press release states the ILA seeks to protest overregulation and job loss, calling out the South Carolina Ports Authority and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor for hiring practices. ILA members process $200 million worth of goods annually at the Port of New York and New Jersey, per the release.