Maersk reduced port calls in line with bigger ships
Plans by Maersk Line to reduce the amount of duplicate port calls and allocate more buffer time around hub ports to increase schedule reliability is a logical move as ship sizes increase, a shipping expert has said.
Following Maersk’s announcement that it would scrap 17 port calls on its services connecting Asia and Europe, Dean Davison, consultant at London-based ClipperMaritime, said there is a positive outlook for Asia-Europe growth in 2018 and assuming ships are full then cost efficiency should be maximised.
“As ship sizes increase then it is not unreasonable to make fewer ports calls but larger box exchanges. This will help maximise the slot cost benefits.”
He added: “Maersk Line is also an operator that does participate in transhipment activities, so a larger ship calling to a hub port will likely have a larger exchange, but also these are boxes to be fed into other sub-markets – i.e. using DCT Gdansk to feed Baltic and Russian markets.”
However, Neil Davidson, senior analyst - ports & terminals at Drewry, stated that the higher number of port calls “was in part necessary to fill ever-larger ships, but also a good way of using up ship capacity.”
Maersk stated that alongside improving cargo reliability with reduced port calls and an additional vessel, allocating more buffer time at hub ports would make it easier to accommodate potential disruptions and their impacts on service delivery.
Mr Davidson commented: “The advent of the big three alliances and their new networks does not seem to have helped schedule reliability, and so it remains a significant issue for shippers. Maersk (and by implication the 2M alliance) is clearly looking to build in greater buffers to try and address this.”
Maersk also anticipates that the changes will enable better balance available capacity across markets, reduce the risk of oversupply and provide strengthened services to key Asian and European ports.
Mr Davison pointed out that ports in which there is no Maersk Line/APMT ownership stake or involvement could be negatively affected. “Access to ‘own’ terminals is crucial to guarantee berthing windows and maintain schedule integrity,” he said. “Maersk Line, like many operators, places significant importance on its schedule integrity and the new schedules will have to make sure that occurs.”
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