The Institute of International Container Lessors urged the Federal Maritime Commission to refuse to expand antitrust immunity for an ocean carrier group that controls six intermodal chassis pools.
Consolidated Chassis Management is seeking to take over day-to-day management of its six regional co-op pools, now run by Flexi-van and Trac Intermodal. CCM also wants to allow shippers and motor carriers to join ship lines in supplying the pools’ equipment.
IICL said CCM, a subsidiary of the 20-member Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association, is proposing to stretch its antitrust immunity beyond chassis sharing to include “the business of leasing chassis and operating chassis pools for profit.”
The proposed changes require FMC approval of an amendment to CCM’s antitrust immunity. The commission last month requested more information, a move that delayed the amendment from taking effect.
The IICL said CCM’s proposal “represents a significant expansion into establishing and operating a land-based transportation business” and would put the carrier group in unfair competition with IICL members Flexi-van and Trac.
“Our members, including chassis lessors, operate their businesses subject to the normal rules of competition, without an antitrust exemption, and we believe that CCM and its subsidiaries should be subject to the same rules … We believe there should be a level playing field,” IICL said in a letter to the commission.
IICL said the proposed change “goes well beyond the interchange of equipment among ocean carriers. Activities that to now have been internal to the carriers will … be projected into the marketplace under the purported cloak of an antitrust immunity that was intended to apply only to the carriers’ own operations.”
CCL has said that managing its own pools would increase operating flexibility and reduce costs by using proprietary technology and eliminating a layer of third-party management.
The proposed changes by CCM, which has six co-op pools with about 130,000 chassis, caused a stir in an industry that’s already in upheaval.
The U.S. is the only major nation where most chassis are supplied by ocean carriers. In the rest of the world, truckers and cargo interests provide them.
During the last two years, numerous carriers have quit providing free chassis in selected markets and turned their equipment over to leasing companies that rent chassis to truckers. Other carriers continue to provide chassis.
--Contact Joseph Bonney at email@example.com.