Congestion at San Pedro harbour forces 2M to split a key service and deploy more vessels.
In a bid to improve schedule reliability, particularly in the Asia/Europe trade, the 2M alliance partners Maersk Line and MSC have decided to suspend their AE1/Shogun and AE6/Lion USWC/Asia/Europe pendulum strings.
Ships are having to wait up to 14 days to secure a berth in the US ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and this is having a knock-on effect on the reliability of 2M’s Asia/Europe operations.
Immediately, the pendula are being split into distinct standalone services, with no indication as to whether they will be resurrected once congestion eases. The move means that 2M will need to deploy at least two additional vessels to maintain the same sailing frequency and port coverage in each market.
Maersk said the decision to discontinue the pendulum loops had been taken in response to “the recent unprecedented market situation with severe port congestion and equipment limitations across global supply chains. This move is critical in delivering to our customers improved levels of schedule reliability.”
A customer advisory released by MSC echoed the same sentiments. “MSC would like to inform customers that to better manage the current industry-wide challenging market situation, which is impacting port activities and generating congestion across the supply chain, we will introduce updates to our East-West network,” the carrier said. “By reshuffling our network, we aim to enhance our schedule reliability and enable our customers to plan and maintain their supply chains.”
Strangely, the move coincides with the announcement by MSC that it is to start a new transpacific service focused on the port of Long Beach. It is scheduled to start in early April, perhaps a time when MSC expects port congestion in the US to be easing, and will operate outside of the 2M alliance.
Dubbed the Sentosa service, it will be one of only a few links offering direct sailings between Thailand and Vietnam and the US west coast. MSC explained that it was responding to strong trade growth in the market and the need to improve reliability in a market that remained under “considerable systemic pressure”.
The Sentosa service will use ships of approximately 5,000 TEU capacity and schedule direct calls at Singapore, Port Tanjung Pelepas, Laem Chabang, Vung Tau, Long Beach, Shanghai, Ningbo, Xiamen and return to Singapore.