Maersk, UASC exchange India/Europe slots
Maersk Line and United Arab Shipping Co. said Tuesday they have entered into a slot exchange agreement on two services linking Asia to Europe.
Maersk will take slots on UASC's direct service (MINA) between India, the Middle East and the West Mediterranean, while UASC will take slots on a Maersk service (ME1) between India, the Middle East and Northern Europe.
MINA, which UASC jointly operates with Hanjin Shipping, actually extends from the Indian Subcontinent to the U.S. East Coast, but it appears Maersk will only buy slots on the Indian Subcontinent/Middle East/Mediterranean legs.
Maersk is dubbing the service ME2 and said, for its customers, the port rotation is Valencia, Genoa, Jeddah, Jebel Ali, Port Qasim, Nhava Sheva, Jeddah, Genoa, Barcelona, and Valencia.
According to ComPair Data and UASC, the complete rotation of MINA is Khorfakkan, Jebel Ali, Port Qasim, Nhava Sheva, Port Said, Cagliari, La Spezia, Marseilles-Fos, Barcelona, Valencia, Cagliari, New York, Norfolk, Savannah, Valencia, Genoa, Port Said, Jeddah and Khorfakkan.
It appears that Maersk, for purposes of its slots, is considering the loop from a Med/India/Med orientation, starting and ending at Valencia, omitting the stops at Port Said and Khorfakkan along the way.
Further complicating things are rumors that the MINA service may be extended to Far East ports.
In any case, Maersk seems to be filling some gaps in its Indian Subcontinent/Med network. The carrier said the service will provide 'direct coverage of key West Mediterranean ports to and from Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent' with 'superior transit times.'
According to ComPair Data and Maersk schedule information, Maersk wholly operates two loops on the trade: the ME1 and ME3. The ME1 offers only one Mediterranean stop, in the Spanish port of Algeciras, while the ME3 offers four Med stops, as well as stops in Port Said in both directions (perhaps indicating why the Port Said stop is not being offered on the UASC service on which Maersk is taking slots).
Maersk also partners with CMA CGM on two other services between Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean — the AE22 and AE3 — but neither of those services feature stops at any Indian Subcontinent ports.
The first westbound sailing on which Maersk has taken slots on the MINA service leaves Nhava Sheva Sept. 19, while the first eastbound sailing leaves Genoa Sept. 21.
Meanwhile, UASC is taking slots on the Maersk ME1, which has a port rotation of Jebel Ali, Bandar Abbas, Jebel Ali, Nhava Sheva, Pipavav, Salalah, Jeddah, Algeciras, Felixstowe, Zeebrugge, Bremerhaven, Rotterdam, Suez Canal, Aqaba and Jebel Ali.
Like Maersk, the arrangement seems to fill in some network gaps for UASC. It has three services (AEC2, AEC4 and AEC5) that it operates or takes slots between Asia and northern Europe, but only one has any stops in the Indian Subcontinent (the AE4, operated by Hanjin, has a call in Colombo). The Maersk service gives UASC direct service between two Indian ports and four northern European ports.
UASC will also soon resurrect its AEC1 loop, though the service will only connect the Far East and Middle East, despite the AEC standing for Asia Europe Container service, according to Alphaliner.
'The retention of the AEC1 name suggests that this pure Far East/Med loop could be extended to Europe as soon as volumes would support this,' Alphaliner said Monday.
In any case, the AEC1 will not have any Indian Subcontinent stops.