TACA CARRIERS NOTIFY PACT ON SLACK-SEASON VESSEL CAPACITY
The carriers of the Trans-Atlantic Conference Agreement have filed an amendment to their cooperative agreement with both the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission and the European Commission seeking to allow them to withdraw surplus capacity during the Christmas/New Year slack period.
The amendment, filed on Friday, would enable the carriers to match supply and demand more closely during the winter holidays period. If the agreement is approved, the carriers will withdraw one or two vessels during the slack period and carry out dry dock or other ship maintenance tasks while demand for vessel space is low.
A spokesman for TACA said the capacity move is not related to plans by the conference to revise freight rates.
David Jeffries, general manager of TACA in Europe, said the conference carriers would still provide sufficient capacity to meet the trade’s demand.
“In previous years, unused capacity (during this slack period) averaged over 25 percent,” he said. “As far as the shippers are concerned, this will be seamless.”
Carriers who withdraw ships would enter into slot-charter agreements with other carriers to continue to provide services during the gap, Jeffries said, adding that these specific agreements would be conducted on a bilateral basis between individual TACA carriers.
The slack-season capacity agreement would cover the trade between northern Europe and the U.S. East and Gulf coasts.
The transatlantic conference appears to be keen to underline that the seasonal capacity pact is different from earlier, controversial attempts by carriers to regulate capacity. In the early 1990s, the Trans-Atlantic Agreement introduced a program of restrictions on ship utilization levels among its members that was strongly criticized by U.S. and European regulators.
“This has nothing to do with the capacity management program of the Trans-Atlantic Agreement,” said Jeffries, referring to the latest slack season plan.
The carriers of the TACA conference are Atlantic Container Line, Hapag-Lloyd, Mediterranean Shipping Co., Maersk Sealand, NYK, OOCL and P&O Nedlloyd.