Maersk Line announced the following enhancements to the WestMed Service, serving the Mediterranean - North America trade. The new service is achieved in cooperation with French-based CMA-CGM in a Vessel Sharing Agreement (VSA) to commence in March 2009. As part of the agreement, Maersk Line will operate four vessels and CMA-CGM will operate one, with an average net capacity of 3,500 TEU.

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, approximately 2,900 TEU of weekly capacity will be removed from the trade, bringing needed stability to the market.

The new product is an improvement over the current WestMed service in several ways:

  • 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.
  • 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 our customers. In the past, Southern France was served via their hub in Algeciras by a feeder. The transit time from Fos-Sur-Mer to Newark has been dramatically reduced from 22 days to 10 days.
  • Maersk will deploy newer, faster vessels, which will improve schedule reliability while minimizing the environmental footprint. The five Panamax ships deployed have an average age of four years, down from the previous average of 20 years.
  • The new schedule further provides customers with secure connections through Mediterranean hubs to reach markets in Africa, Middle East, and the eastern Mediterranean.

“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,” he continued.

By signing this two-year agreement, Maersk Line demonstrates its commitment to the Mediterranean - North America trade.

The first sailings will begin during the second week of March in continuation of the current service.