Thursday, January 20, 2022

Revised Service Offerings for Container Shipping Alliance May Draw the Attention of Regulators

Tempers Are Rising as Delays to Box Services Continue
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – It will prove interesting how the regulatory authorities, particularly in the United States, react to the latest release from the four major container shipping lines which make up the Ocean Alliance, the Day 6 initiative.

The four, CMA CGM, COSCO, OOCL and Evergreen have made great stock of the revisions to services, which will come in in April, but in fact there appears to be little new in the announcement as far as shippers are concerned. Considering the appalling situation seen in many ports around the world, and particularly in the US, one might have expected the lines to keep their heads firmly below the parapet, or perhaps take more meaningful action.

Estimates say half a million TEU are currently delayed at US West Coast ports and the situation sees dozens of box ships waiting offshore for a slot, sometimes for several weeks. Meanwhile the volume of complaints from freight forwarders and shippers alike grows, and the Federal authorities are taking notice.

So what of Day6? The new schedules will see 42 separate services with 352 vessels offering an estimated total annual capacity of around 22.4 million TEUs. Major points are:

  • Transpacific trade routes with 23 services, including a new service between Asia and the east coast of the United States (CBX operated by CMA CGM), two new services between Asia and the west coast of the United States (CENX operated by COSCO and SEAX operated by COSCO/OOCL) and a service upgrade between China and the west coast of the United States (PRX operated by CMA CGM with seven 15,000-TEU ships)
  • What the Ocean Alliance is calling ‘a game-changing’ offering between Asia and Europe with 7 services and the deployment of nine, 23,000-TEU, LNG-powered ships on FAL 1
  • An enhanced offering between Asia and the Mediterranean with an upgrade to two services operated by CMA CGM (MEX 1 with nine 15,000-TEU, LNG-powered ships and PHOEX with five 8,500-TEU ships)
  • 2 Transatlantic services connecting northern Europe with the east coast of the United States and with the Gulf of Mexico
  • 4 dedicated services between Asia and the Middle East and 2 Asia-Red Sea services

Again much is made of how the Alliance is cleaning up its act with CMA CGM alone assigning 15 dual fuel vessels to the new schedules, with a promise of more to come. Such environmental promotion is unlikely to sway the opinions of those who see the situation as the lines profiting by operating what is, after all, a Conference by any other name, whilst post Covid, shippers suffer.