Photo 139788154 © Vladimir Serebryanskiy – Dreamstime.com By Mike Wackett 09/03/2021 To improve schedule reliability, 2M partners Maersk and MSC are to avoid congested US west coast ports with two transpacific pendulum services.From this week, the AE1/Shogun and AE6/Lion loops from Asia will turn in North Europe instead of going on to the US.And to “facilitate the network adjustments”, the 2M said it would blank next week’s AE55/Griffin sailing from Asia to North Europe.Maersk said the decision to discontinue the pendulum loops was in response to “the recent unprecedented market situation with severe port congestion and equipment limitations across global supply chains”.Ships arriving at the South California container hubs of Los Angeles and Long Beach are regularly obliged to wait at anchor in the San Pedro Bay for up to two weeks for an available berth, making it impossible to recover schedules, and Maersk said it considered the change “critical to deliver improved schedule reliability”.One UK-based NVOCC told The Loadstar today the 2M’s move “was not before time”, adding that “their schedules are shot to pieces”.However, another shipper contact said he thought the 2M network changes might have “more to do with rates”, as spot rates from Asia to North Europe are currently double those for the US west coast.“Some might say, after carriers got a tap on the fingers for increasing rates on the transpacific and appear to have stopped the rate hike, that they now want to sail vessels where the money is – or, alternatively, what’s the point of loading up a ship to sit for days or weeks on the US west coast?” said Nick Coverdale, founder of Hong Kong-based Agreefreight.“Maybe it’s a mixture of both, personally I think it’s a fair business decision and in the customers’ best interests,” he added.Founder and CEO of eeSea, Simon Sundboell agreed that carriers seemed to be serious about improving the industry’s dire schedule integrity. But, he told The Loadstar today, “it’s not just solved by the flick of a finger”, noting that the chronic port congestion on the west coast “did not seem to be letting up and is reverberating through the system”.He added: “The 2M’s decision to disentangle their two pendulum services makes sense. It may require one or two more vessels to run separate services instead of the two pendulums, but with the USWC delays, that’s not a bad medium-term decision.“The carriers know this bull market won’t last for ever and, while they will surely negotiate contracts hard right now, they also don’t want to be seen as completely disregarding their product quality promises.“Will THE Alliance follow the 2M and do the same for its FP1 And FP2 pendulums?” he asked. “And while the Ocean Alliance’s ME4/PSW8 and Cosco’s AACI pendulums loop into the Middle-East and the Indian sub-continent, not Europe, they may also be tempted to look at those.”
DOHA, Qatar – George Coetzee of South Africa needed just 21 putts to shoot an 8-under-par 64 for a one-shot lead on the opening day of the Qatar Masters on Wednesday. Coetzee eagled the par-5 10th hole and birdied his closing three holes in a round that was just two shots more than his best on the European Tour, a 62 which equaled the Old Course record at St. Andrews in Scotland 15 months ago. “I was quite lucky to get away with a few shots,” he said. “There’s a lot of luck involved in this game, especially the way I play, and I had 21 putts with a three-putt, so that goes to show.” At 7 under were Dawie Van Der Walt, among five South Africans in the top 13, and Steve Webster of England, who began in spectacular manner by holing a 254-yard, 5-wood second shot for an albatross at his opening hole, the 548-yard, par-5 10th. There were only two spectators around the green, and one of them was jumping up and down and pointing in a downward motion. “I didn’t know whether he was inferring it had gone over the back of the green and onto rocks, but then when I got up there he starts clapping,” Webster said. “I’ve never been 3 under after one hole before, so it was all a bit strange after that. You start thinking is this my day, or have I had all my luck on the first?” It was the second albatross in three events this year, whereas there was just one on the tour in 2013. Webster, who celebrated his 39th birthday last Friday, picked up five birdies over his next 12 holes to lead at 8 under, then dropped a shot at his 15th. Four players were in fourth place at 6 under, while the former British Open-winning trio of Ernie Els, John Daly and Paul Lawrie were among a group at 5 under. Els ended the first round holing a 35-yard bunker shot on 18 for eagle. Round 1 interviews: Ernie Els | John Daly | Jason Dufner | Luke Donald “That was a dream finish, that’s always going to put a smile on your face,” said Els, the 2005 Qatar winner. “I played quite nicely all day but didn’t quite get my share of putts, so that bunker shot at the last really made up for everything.” Lawrie also had an eagle, on the 16th, while Daly birdied his first three holes and two of his closing three. “I’ve started off this year putting really, really well, and just made three bombs to start with today,” Daly said. “But I just got into trouble a couple of times with the driver, so it was my putting that kept me in there.” Henrik Stenson bounced back from missing the halfway cut last week in Abu Dhabi with a 68. PGA champion Jason Dufner, competing in Qatar for the second year running, carded 70. A 30-minute delay due to fog at the start of the day meant three players were unable to complete the round because of darkness.