The 2M Alliance’s main two carriers are due to go their separate ways in 2025, but there have been recent signs that Maersk and MSC are starting to deploy their vessels separately on some loops, leading to speculation that an early split could be on the cards.
The world’s two biggest carriers seem to be moving towards one ship operator per loop already, which has become evident on the Asia-Europe trade. According to a report in The Loadstar, Danish giant Maersk is now listed as the sole vessel provider for the AE5/Albatross, AE10/Silk and AE7/Condor loops, and MSC are indicated as the vessel operator on the AE55/Griffin and AE6/Lion services, along with its standalone Swan service.
Since the original announcement of the upcoming split, both carriers have outlined their intentions to operate individually through their own networks, and each has demonstrated a reluctance to rely on vessel sharing.
The recent European Commision announcement to not extend the Consortia Block Exemption Regulation (CBER) may have led to an acceleration in the 2M disbandment. CBER was introduced in 2009 to allow carriers to continue vessel-sharing agreements, but will not be renewed when it expires in April 2024.
Regardless of 2M’s intentions, a wave of new Ultra Large Container Vessels (UCLVs) have continued to increase capacity despite low demand, therefore a carrier shake up of some kind would not be a major surprise in the next few months.