What advantages do megacarriers bring to the production-distribution system?
This is the real issue. If giant ships cause problems for a terminal that is not a transhipment or dedicated terminal, they can cause even greater problems or, at the very least, are of no benefit to the efficiency of the logistics chain. It is not true, for instance, that the introduction of ULCCs enables final destination ports to be served by direct lines. The opposite may well be true: the bigger the size of the ship the more reasonable transhipment becomes, especially in the Mediterranean. UNCTAD’s Liner Shipping Connectivity Index (ULSCI), moreover, has highlighted the fact that just 17.7% of country-to-country relations are served directly by full containerships, all others require at least one transhipment. (11) The MDS Transmodal study for the Port authority of Venice (January 2012) suggested indeed an increase in volumes for northern Adriatic ports generated by a) better railway infrastructures by 2030, capable of providing 750 metre long international and national trains, and b) an increase in direct services of full containerships having a capacity of up to 11,000 Teu and a 15m draught when fully loaded, without specifying however whether or not these services are meant to be considered in competition with Far East-Northern Europe services calling at transhipment ports in the Mediterranean. (12) Once again the problem is presented as a logistical problem faced by shipping companies, whether it is worth it for them to serve the northern Adriatic with ULCCs transhipping in the Mediterranean and carry on towards Northern Europe, or with 9/10,000 Teu vessels directly serving Venice, Trieste, Rijeka, etc. Rather it is a problem pertaining to the quality of services that clients demand: time sensitive services rewarding “fast” lines, or services that use transport as a warehouse, preferring “slow” lines. Shippers do not currently appear to be willing to pay a “premium” for a higher quality service. The price factor is still dominant in a recession period, but things should be different in 2030, in both quantitative and qualitative terms. This at least is the implied hypothesis in studies on trends and prospects that point to strong growth when the recession eventually comes to an end.
11. UNCTAD, “Review of maritime transport 2012”.
12. MDS Transmodal, NAPA, Market study on the potential cargo capacity of the North Adriatic ports system in the container sector, Final report, January 2012.
13. Isabel Lesto, Going bust. When 13 high street names collapse in 12 months, where does that leave the freight service providers?, “Lloyds List”, 31 January 2013. The Wikipedia entry Highstreet Holding in German has a wealth of information on the retail crisis.
16. Risk Barometer 2013, downloaded from the website www.allianz.com.
17. Riccardo Damonte, Massimo Gronda, Gigantismo navale e mercato assicurativo, in “Tecnologia, Trasporti, Mare”, September-October 2011.
18. “Up to now there has always been a comforting illusion that dredgers and civil engineers will be able to expand a port and deepen its channels to accommodate every bigger ship entering service, but there will be physical limits. A ship that is so big that it can only trade to a handful of ports is notably inflexible, if its owner wishes it to trade somewhere else. Such a ship, half empty because of the need to restrict its draught, is not a brilliant solution for any owner” https://www.bimco.org/Education/Seascapes/Questions_of_shipping/What_limits_a_ships_size .aspx.