An ocean carrier group seeking expanded antitrust immunity for its chassis pools isn’t trying to fix the rates truckers pay for equipment, a former chairman of Consolidated Chassis Management said.
Chassis pricing decisions will continue to be made by individual equipment providers, said Bill Rooney, vice president, trans-Pacific services, at logistics provider Kuehne + Nagel.
Rooney discussed chassis in a speech at the annual New York-New Jersey Port Industry Day. When he was top U.S. executive at Hanjin Shipping, Rooney chaired CCM, a subsidiary of the 20-member Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association.
CCM wants to take over day-to-day management of its chassis pools, and to allow truckers and shippers to join ocean carriers in supplying equipment to the pools. First, though, the Federal Maritime Commission would have to amend to the carrier group’s antitrust immunity.
The Institute for International Container Lessors has objected to the change, arguing it would put CCM in unfair competition with IICL members Flexi-van and Trac, which now manage the pools.
Rooney said CCM is seeking expanded antitrust immunity not to jointly set rates, but to reduce costs through common billing practices. He said the shipping act prohibit ocean carriers from colluding on rates.
“The key question I’ve heard from truckers is, ‘Does this mean the carriers can collectively agree what they are going to charge truckers to use chassis on a daily basis?’ The answer to that is ‘no.’” Rooney said. “The people who own the chassis will individually decide what gets charged.”
During the last two years, numerous carriers have quit providing chassis in certain markets. Rooney said he expects that trend to continue, and that chassis providers will develop a variety of business models.
Rooney said chassis have a $2 billion to $3 billion annual impact on carriers’ balance sheets and cost ship lines more than $1 billion a year in maintenance and repair. He said that if these costs are clearly identified and rationally priced, market forces will force the industry to operate more efficiently.
“Shippers around the country who happen to have 300 or 400 boxes sitting at their distribution centers because they have a free chassis and a free box, that’s going to change overnight,” he said.