2M Alliance to cut direct calls, add buffer time in Asia-Europe revamp

2M Alliance to cut direct calls, add buffer time in Asia-Europe revamp

Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co. are making a big adjustment to their Asia-Europe network. Photo credit: Maersk Line.

The 2M Alliance will cut 17 port calls from its Asia-North Europe and Asia-Mediterranean strings while adding an average of 48 hours of additional buffer time into its schedules in a major network adjustment aimed at improving reliability that will begin in May.

Maersk Line said the revised portfolio will enable the alliance — Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Company, plus Hyundai Merchant Marine — to better balance available capacity across markets, reducing the risk of oversupply and providing strengthened services to key Asian and European ports.

It is a move sure to evoke strong reaction from shippers that have complained about the reduction in direct port calls and fewer port pairs around which to build greater service options since the Ocean Alliance and THE Alliance began operating on April 2017. Hub and spoke networks require greater transshipment and add both cost and time to shipper supply chains.

But Maersk Line said in a statement that while the number of calls have been reduced, direct coverage to all main markets has been maintained, “with tailored products designed for North European, Mediterranean, and Adriatic countries and with attractive coverage of main Middle East markets.” The carrier said schedule reliability will be improved and the alliance will retain competitive coverage and transit times.

Reliability on Asia-Europe services has been traditionally impacted by port congestion and weather conditions, Maersk Line said, and the changes in the network were introduced to address the challenges by significantly improving buffers in schedules, making it easier to accommodate potential disruptions and thus minimizing the impact on service delivery.

“Forced port omissions disrupt cargo flows and impact our customers’ supply chains. This network is designed to reduce the necessity to omit ports,” said Johan Sigsgaard, Maersk Line head of Europe trade.

In the new network, the amount of duplicate port calls will be cut and more buffer time will be allocated around hub ports, amounting to an additional 48 hours of average buffer time in the schedules. Overall on North European and Mediterranean strings there will be a reduction of 17 port calls, with an additional vessel added to the network.

“We are pleased to provide our customers with this revised network, which will offer them a higher level of cargo arrival reliability,” said Sigsgaard.

A total of 115 vessels operate on 2M’s Asia-Europe network handling about 2 million TEU.

Contact Greg Knowler at greg.knowler@ihsmarkit.com and follow him on Twitter: @greg_knowler.


Years ago, while describing their services using the then ultra large 15,000 teu ships (Emma class), Maersk management attending TOC meetings told the audiences that they would use a hub a spoke system. Here it is.

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