2M partners represent top and bottom on reliability

Swiss Mediterranean Shipping Company is just about the lowest ranked carrier in a new schedule reliability survey among the 20 biggest container carriers, while Maersk Line remains the most reliable carrier.

Photo: APM Terminals

Maersk Line's future partner in the announced 2M alliance collaboration - and the second largest container carrier in the world - Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), headquartered in Geneva, does not seem to react to the carrier's historically poor reliability record.

According to analyst agency SeaIntel's new survey of schedule reliability among the Top 20 container carriers on the services between Asia and North Europe, where Maersk Line and MSC are planning to share vessels - around 185 ships in a new Vessel Sharing Agreement, VSA - MSC is ranked almost last, as number 19 out of the 20 biggest container carriers.

Better service

In June when Maersk Line and MSC announced their planned collaboration, set to start operating in early 2015, Maersk Line's Chief Trade and Marketing Officer Vincent Clerc told ShippingWatch that 2M will improve the service to customers, with improved coverage, increased delivery frequency and a strong reliability.

Photo: Maersk Line
Photo: Maersk Line

But according to SeaIntel's latest survey, SeaIntel Global Liner Performance, the container industry's benchmark index that shippers keep in mind when choosing which carrier to use, there seems to be some work ahead in terms of schedule reliabilty.

In June 2014 MSC's average schedule reliability was down to 71.5 percent, only marginally better than last-place finisher NYK. At the other end of the scale, Maersk Line continued its tradition of landing first on the Top 20 with a schedule reliability of 87.2 percent, though the carrier still has some way to go to reach its former reliability levels.

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For Maersk as well as the other container carriers, the industry's overall decline in schedule reliability - especially over the last year - is attributed to the low rates combined with the towering fuel costs, factors that make it costly to catch up on lost time when the ship is underway.

A mass product

"While Maersk Line has always put an honor in delivering a product on time, MSC has been known far and wide for doing the exact opposite, and the carrier has pretty much always placed last in terms of on-time arrivals. And I'm even being very diplomatic here," says Lars Jensen, CEO and partner, Seaintel:

"Arriving and sailing on time has never been a high priority for MSC. On the other hand, it's fair to say that a very big percentage of customers in the market do not place a high price on this and are unwilling to pay for it. For MSC it has for decades been a matter of fundamentally offering a very basic product at a fair price. Then the product will sell itself.  And it's also this philosophy, a commodity product, that is behind 2M, and the same thing applied to the failed P3 collaboration (Maersk Line, MSC and CMA CGM),"says Lars Jensen.

Source: SeaIntel Global Liner Performance

SeaIntel: Big delays among container carriers

Maersk Line: 2M could start in China tomorrow

Maersk Executive: Why MSC is the best partner for us 

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