The P3 alliance has no intention to go slow steaming, but instead even plans to improve average headhaul vessel speeds, putting pressure on its competitors to spend more money on fuel, Drewry Maritime Research concludes from its assessment of the alliance’s schedules announced two weeks ago.
The P3’s average vessel speed deployed from Asia to Northern Europe from the second quarter of 2014 will be kept at 19.5k (knots), while the average speed on the return journey will even increase slightly from 14.4k to 14.7k.
“This means that other carriers will be compelled to follow suit at a time when they can ill afford it, not having the same economies of scale,” Drewry noted.
If the P3 alliance of Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC), and CMA CGM is approved by regulators, then MSC and CMA CGM will see their westbound vessels run faster, from an average of 18.2k and 17.8k, respectively, up to 19.5k.
Meanwhile, Maersk’s vessels’ average speed will be cut from 20.4k down to 19.5k. On the way back, MSC’s vessels will also be speeded up, from an average of 13.7k to 14.7k, Maersk’s will rise from 14.3k to 14.7k, and CMA CGM’S will be reduced from 15.5k down to 14.7k.
This development emphasizes the P3’s apparent strategy of promoting quality before quantity: the new average westbound speed of 19.5k is significantly higher than the current overall trade route average of 18.7k, Drewry said.
In the trans-Pacific trade lane between Asia and the West Coast of North America, the P3’s average eastbound vessel speed will be increased from 19.6k to 19.9k from the second quarter of next year.
“This is almost one knot faster than the current route average of 19k so, here again, pressure will be applied on other lines to keep up,” said Drewry.
But P3 plans to reduce the average speed of its westbound trans-Pacific services back to Asia from a below par 13.3k to an even slower 12.4k, against the industry standard of 14.5k. P3 argues that most westbound traffic is low value, and so does not require express services.
“Shippers will expect competitors of Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM to follow P3’s speed improvement on headhaul routes in 2Q 14 whether these carriers can afford it or not,” predicts Drewry.