The service schedule for the launch of the P3 Network in May 2014 indicates that its three member carriers intend to maintain or even accelerate vessel speeds.
The schedule announced two weeks ago by Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co. and CMA CGM could force other carriers to speed up their vessels, according to Drewry Maritime Research.
The P3 schedule shows that the three carriers plan to increase average eastbound vessel speed on the trans-Pacific from 19.6 knots to 19.9 knots as of the second quarter of 2014.
This is almost one knot faster than the current trans-Pacific route average of 19 knots and suggests that the P3 carriers may be looking to compete against air freight, Drewry said in its Container Insight Weekly.
But on the westbound trans-Pacific backhaul, the P3 carriers plan to reduce the average from 13.3 knots to an even slower 12.4 knots. This compares with the current industry standard of 14.5 knots. “P3’s argument is that most westbound traffic is low value, so does not require express services,” Drewry said.
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On westbound services from Asia to North Europe, the P3 carriers will maintain their current average vessel speed of 19.5 knots, but plan to increase the speed on the backhaul to Asia slightly from 14.4 knots to 14.7 knots.
This means that other carriers will more or less be compelled to follow suit at a time when they can ill afford it, because they do not have the same economies of scale as the P3 alliance.
“In other words, the P3 alliance will put pressure on other carriers to spend more money on fuel, although the jury is still out on its benefits,” Drewry said.