By Mike Wackett

Ahead of Maersk’s acquisition of Hamburg Süd, a deal has been reached for the German carrier to purchase slots on Maersk vessels for its east-west volumes from 1 April. This will coincide with the termination of Hamburg Süd’s current slot agreement with UASC.

“We are pleased with this agreement. Accommodating these additional volumes enables improved utilisation in our fleet and provides opportunities to enhance our customer offering on select trades,” said Søren Toft, COO, Maersk Line. The agreement is subject to maritime filing requirements and covers Asia-North Europe, Asia-Mediterranean, transatlantic and transpacific tradelanes.

In December 2014, Hamburg Süd and UASC concluded a “global co-operation agreement”, which involved slots on four UASC Asia-US west coast loops and one US east coast service, two Asia to North Europe strings and one Asia-Med service and a number of Hamburg Süd’s South American services.

According to reports at the time, Hamburg Süd had an allocation of around 1,700 slots a week between Asia and the US and some 1,000 between Asia and Europe. However, it found the Asia-North Europe market particularly challenging, with freight rates in freefall, and struggled to fill its allocations – slots it was obliged to pay for, used or not.

Since the Maersk takeover announcement in December, Hamburg Süd has not been especially active in these markets, according to The Loadstar sources, and has conceded much of its market share gain from the slot charter agreement with UASC.

Board member Frank Smet said: “Hamburg Süd is very satisfied with the agreement with Maersk. Our customers will benefit from extended port coverage, best transit times, and an increased number of loops in the east–west trades.”

The two lines said they would advise on any network changes “in the coming week”.

Maersk said the agreement was “not related” to its acquisition of Hamburg Süd, announced Dec 1, which is subject to a satisfactory due diligence, final agreement and subject to regulatory approval in amongst others China, Korea, Australia, Brazil, the United States and the EU. Maersk Line expects the regulatory process to last until the end of 2017. Until then, Hamburg Süd and Maersk Line will continue business as usual.

With the acquisition, Maersk Line will have container capacity of around 3.8 million TEUs, representing approximately 18.6 per cent of global capacity. The combined fleet will consist of 741 container vessels with an average age of 8.7 years.

Reprinted courtesy of The Loadstar (