Maersk Line has announced the formation of a 10-year Vessel Sharing Agreement (VSA) on the Asia-Europe, Transatlantic and Transpacific trades.
To be known as 2M, the new agreement will replace all existing VSAs and slot purchase agreements that Maersk Line has in these trades.
The VSA will include 185 vessels with an estimated capacity of 2.1m teu, deployed across 21 strings, with the overall purpose of the cooperation to share infrastructure. The pair believe they will be able to provide more stable and frequent services as well as cover more ports with direct services.
“The VSA will improve the efficiency of the Maersk Line and MSC networks through better utilisation of vessel capacity and economies of scale,” said Maersk in a statement.
The 21 strings are split as follows: Asia/North Europe: 6, Asia/Mediterranean: 4, Asia/US West Coast: 4, Asia/US East Coast: 2, North Europe/USA: 3, Mediterranean/USA: 2.
Maersk will contribute around 110 vessels with a nominal capacity of approximately 1.2m teu and MSC will contribute 75 vessels with around 900,000 teu capacity. Vessels deployed in the VSA will continue to be owned (or chartered) and operated by the two individual lines.
The VSA does not include joint marine operations, so each party will thus execute their own operations including stowage, voyage planning and port operations. Nor does it include any commercial tasks or responsibilities; each party will continue to have fully independent sales, pricing, marketing, and customer service functions.
The 2M agreement follows the collapse of the P3 alliance between Maersk Line, MSC and CMA CGM, which fell through in June when Chinese competition authorities refused to sanction the deal.
Maersk says the new agreement differs from P3 in two key ways: the combined market share is much smaller and it will be a pure vessel sharing agreement with no jointly owned independent entity with executional powers.
The agreement is expected to start in 2015, though the start date is conditioned by filing information to and, in some cases, approvals by relevant authorities.