By Mike Wackett

Seven weeks before two rival mega east-west alliances are set to launch, 2M alliance partners Maersk Line and MSC have launched an aggressive capacity hike on the two biggest tradelanes.

On 1 April, the date for the launch of the new Ocean and THE Alliance networks, 2M will introduce a new loop between Asia and North Europe [dubbed AE7 by Maersk] calling at Ningbo and Shanghai in China, Tanjung Pelepas, in Malaysia, and Rotterdam, Hamburg, Bremerhaven, Wilhelmshaven and Felixstowe in North Europe.

And, on the same date, 2M will launch a new transpacific service, which Maersk calls TP16, between Asia and the U.S. east coast [via the Panama Canal], calling Hong Kong, Yantian, Shanghai and Busan in Asia, and Savannah, Norfolk, Charleston and Miami on the U.S. east and Gulf coasts.

Silvia Ding, head of trade at Maersk Line, said: “Our new slot agreements [with Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) and Hamburg Sud] require that we increase our capacity. With these service improvements we are adding the necessary capacity to match the increase in volumes.”

MSC said the service revisions “follow an unprecedented year in the liner industry, which saw considerable change to the composition of alliances and commercial structures, including significant mergers and acquisitions”. It added that all the vessels deployed on the new services, no details yet advised, would be “operated exclusively by MSC and Maersk Line”, confirming that HMM will be only a slot charterer between Asia and North Europe after it exits the G6 alliance. After the announcement of a “strategic cooperation agreement” between the 2M and HMM in December, Maersk and MSC shippers expressed concern that their cargo could be loaded onto HMM vessels, obliging the main carriers to give certain assurances.

Maersk claims its AE7 loops will offer “best-in-class” transit times from east China to Rotterdam and Hamburg, and be “competitive” in terms of the coverage of Bremerhaven and Wilhelmshaven. The Danish carrier added that its TP16 loop would improve transit time between South China and the U.S. South Atlantic by eight days, which it claims “will be the fastest in the market”.

Reprinted courtesy of The Loadstar (