Shippers on the transpacific trade are being left hanging on about the full network details from the new Ocean and THE alliances as they continue to work out the details.
With just over a month left until the new alliances make their debut, key information is missing, such as the days of the week ships will call at terminals, the actual terminals themselves, and the size of ships to be deployed on each service.
The Asia-based supply chain director for a global retailer told IHS Media “if the carriers haven’t filled in the blanks by mid-March, it will be a serious issue as we will be forced to allocate contract volume in semidarkness.”
Asked about the delay in making public the full Ocean Alliance details, Hong Kong’s Orient Overseas Container Line said: “Ocean Alliance members are currently in the final stages of completing discussions on deployment related matters such as adjustments to berthing windows and service rotations to improve our products and meet customer requirements.”
A container line executive in THE Alliance said the full network details could be available from the first week of March. He said “99 per cent” of the new alliance network has been fixed and the line has already been selling the product to its customers on a direct basis.
However, he said there were tactical reasons for not giving a full update of the new product, such as carriers still finalising contract negotiations with some terminals, not wanting to confuse customers as current alliances were still live, and “a little bit of keeping our competitors guessing.”
Another “very big puzzle piece,” according to a maritime industry analyst that was missing was 2M Alliance details of the upcoming slot sharing agreement between Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co and Hyundai Merchant Marine.
On the Asia-US west coast, SeaIntel said: “Back then it seemed that Ocean Alliance was dominant in almost all aspects of the competitive benchmarks, while this week we see that Ocean Alliance and THE Alliance seemed to be well-matched on most aspects, while 2M appeared to be lagging considerably behind the other alliances in this trade lane.”
Drewry said a source within THE Alliance had told the analyst that rather than drip feeding information, the group had agreed it will only release a statement when everything has been finalised. The source said certain key customers have been privately kept up to date on schedules that specifically affect the movement of their goods.
“The cynic in us also wonders if carriers from both groups decided against announcing any capacity details for fear of undermining their contract negotiations with BCOs [beneficial cargo owners],” the analyst said.
“Any signal of a future rise in capacity from April could well have dented their bargaining power in the latest round of annual east-west contracts, which by all accounts carriers fared much better in than last year.”
Source: Shipping Gazette