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Maersk Line: P3 Alliance's key Asian port still in play

Several questions remain regarding the P3 Alliance, including which port will serve as the important key port in Asia. Vincent Clerc, Chief Trade & Marketing Officer at Maersk Line, answers the most urgent questions from ShippingWatch.

Negotiators from Maersk Line, MSC, and CMA CGM still haven't agreed on one of the most important questions in the collaboration between the three carriers in the new P3 Alliance, that is, which port will serve as the key hub in Southeast Asia, confirms Vincent Clerc, Chief Trade & Marketing Officer at Maersk Line, to ShippingWatch.

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According to analysts SeaIntel, choosing a key port in Southeast Asia is very important and one of the major challenges for Alliance, as cargo from countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand is distributed further through the three key ports currently used by each carrier. For Maersk Line this port is Tanjung Pelepas and for CMA CGM it's Port Kelang, also in Malaysia, while MSC is using Singapore.

Alphaliner: New mega-alliance will stabilize container industry

If the three carriers decide to use only one of these key ports it would mean that the entire feeder network from the ports in question would have to be changed, as it's highly unlikely that a container ship from Asia to Northern Europe would call in all three ports. And if the P3 Alliance decides to rely on just one key port in Southeast Asia, Maersk Line would necessarily have to restructure its Daily Maersk product while balancing it with the feeder need of CMA CGM and MSC, says SeaIntel.

Photo: APM Terminals
Photo: APM Terminals

"We haven't completed the working process to chose terminals. We're currently discussing the matter with our partners, and we'll announce which terminals we'll be calling in when we're done talking. In any case, our choice won't impair the product we'll be able to offer customers with cargo and who need transshipments in that location," says Vincent Clerc.

He stresses that the shipping company will maintain its Daily Maersk product, which was introduced in 2011:

Will be able to maintain Daily Maersk

"We currently offer Daily Maersk with five sailings, and we've established the new network so that we can keep offering the product on the eight sailings that we'll have. Though not all of the ships will be calling in Maersk ports, there'll be sufficient coverage for our needs."

Since announcing the new cooperation, the largest ever in container shipping due to the carriers' total market share of around 45 percent on Asia - Northern Europe, major container shipping analysts such as Drewry, SeaIntel, and Alphaliner have made it clear that the concentration of three major alliances and a sharp focus on unit costs and and prices in the future will make it difficult for individual carriers to differentiate themselves from each other, that the industry will become a "mass product" with a host of companies offering the same services.

Major challenges ahead for the P3 alliance

And differentiation and a sharp profile is exactly what Maersk Line has been working toward with Daily Maersk, along with the fact that the carrier is ranked first in reliability and markets itself on areas such as energy and environment, among other things.

"We believe that customer experience is more than just sailing schedules, which is the only thing this alliance shares. Areas such as sales, customer service, IT service, physical conditions, commitments, and prices are some of the many other important criteria that come into play when customers make choices. We will continue to differentiate our products on the basis of the these criteria. On Asia-Europe as well as other routes around the world we'll share our infrastructure with partners while continuing to offer a differentiated Maersk service to our customers," says Vincent Clerc to ShippingWatch.

In 2000, Maersk Line moved its comprehensive transshipment operations from Singapore to Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia.

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SeaIntel: Maersk alliance will carry significant advantages

Drewry: P3 alliance monopolizing the two main routes

”Container carriers are close to being completely hard up” 

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