Commencing March 2009, the new WestMed service will replace two existing services; the Amerigo service operated by CMA-CGM and Evergreen, and Maersk Line’s current WestMed. By combining two strings, Maersk Line said approximately 2,900TEUs of weekly capacity will be removed from the trade, bringing needed stability to the market.
Maersk Line will operate four vessels while CMA-CGM will operate one vessel, with an average net capacity of 3,500TEUs.
“The new WestMed Service is really the best of both worlds. We are expanding coverage and improving reliability and transit times to better serve our customers,” said Soren Castbak, Senior Director of Atlantic Product Management for Maersk Line. “And at the same time we deal pro-actively with the economic climate, taking out capacity in line with the softening demand from customers in the trade.”
The new schedule continues coverage of all ports in the current WestMed rotation, in many cases with improved transit times. For example, the transit time from Algeciras (Spain) to Newark (New Jersey, US) has been reduced from nine to seven days.
However, in the US the company will be routing regional cargo to Norfolk, Va., and Savannah instead of into the Port of Charleston. The decision is on top of Maersk’s plan to move its South Atlantic Express from Charleston to neighboring ports by February and forms part of the announcement in December that the company will be leaving Charleston at the end of 2010.
New direct port calls in Fos-Sur-Mer (France), Malta, and Miami (Florida, US) expand Maersk Line’s geographical scope, creating access to new markets for its customers. In the past, Southern France was served via the group’s hub in Algeciras by a feeder. The transit time from Fos-Sur-Mer to Newark has been reduced from 22 days to 10 days.
Maersk Line will deploy newer, faster vessels, which will improve schedule reliability while minimising the company’s environmental footprint. The five Panamax ships deployed have an average age of four years, down from the previous average of twenty years.
The new schedule further provides customers with secure connections through Maersk Line’s Mediterranean hubs to reach markets in Africa, Middle East, and the eastern Mediterranean.
The first sailings will begin during the second week of March in continuation of the current service.