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© Prasit Rodphan

The 2M partners Maersk and MSC have signed an agreement with Israel’s Zim Lines to combine their Asia-US east coast container shipping services.

The seven Asia-US east coast loops deployed by the carriers – five from the 2M and two by Zim – will be consolidated into five loops from September: four operated by the 2M and one by Zim, with the three parties involved – Maersk, MSC and Zim – swapping slots on all five strings.

The agreement is set to last for four years with an option to be extended to seven, and has been filed with regulatory authorities.

“We are pleased to enter into this strategic cooperation with Zim. We will improve our combined product portfolio between Asia and the US east coast and deliver on our promise to customers, while creating the needed operational efficiencies for us to run a sustainable business on the trade also in the future,” said Søren Toft, chief operating officer of Maersk Line.

According to MSC, the newly designed network will see the launch of a new service, dubbed Elephant, featuring direct calls at Laem Chabang, for Thai exporters, and a call at Colombo, “to facilitate shipping opportunities for cargo from nearby India, Pakistan and Bangladesh”.

MSC has named the five services America, Empire, Amberjack, Emerald and Elephant.

America service will operate between South China and Vietnam and the US east coast and deploy 9,500 teu vessels; Empire will run from Yantian, via Shanghai, Ningbo and Busan to the northern ports of the US east coast, deploying 11,500 teu vessels; Amberjack will focus on the southern US east coast ports of Savannah, Charleston, Wilmington and Jacksonville, offer transhipment through Kingston and connect with mid and north Chinese ports and Busan, deploying 8,500 teu vessels; and Emerald will operate larger 9,500 teu vessels via the Panama Canal, hubbing at the Atlantic terminal at Cristobal and going from China and Taiwan to the US east coast.

The Elephant service, using smaller 6,500 teu ships, will connect Thailand with the US east coast via the Suez Canal and feature transhipment over Singapore, Colombo and Salalah. US ports served will be New York, Norfolk and Savannah.

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