Container alliances under fire as consortia block exemption up for review in Europe.
Cooperation is rife in the container shipping world. Despite working in an industry that has often displayed a dark tendency for ruthless undercutting, carriers appear to brush aside any ill-feeling that might be caused by predatory commercial behaviour and generally play well together operationally.
There are very few standalone container services in the key trades with vessel sharing agreements (VSAs) and slot charter deals the standard. VSAs are purely operational co-operative structures that promote efficiency and cost reduction, and do not discuss or agree upon rates or other commercial issues. They can range in scale; from a single service agreement between two carriers to much deeper strategic connections among multiple lines as seen with the big three alliances – 2M, Ocean Alliance, and THE Alliance – that cover the East-West routes.