The UK port of Liverpool will see calls by the 2M transatlantic loop it won from Felixstowe at the end of last year suspended until mid-May, as Maersk and MSC grapple to improve schedule reliability.

The 2M alliance said that, as a result of bad weather in the North Atlantic compounded by port congestion, it will temporarily suspend the Liverpool and New York calls of its TA2/NEUATL2 transatlantic loop for six and nine weeks, respectively.

According to Alphaliner, the first ship to omit the New York call will be the 7,250 teu Maersk Sembawang, which is scheduled to commence its westbound voyage from Bremerhaven on 17 March.

The last Liverpool call before the suspension will be performed by the 6,541 teu Maersk Puelo on 30 March – thereafter, the service will follow an interim schedule of Bremerhaven, Antwerp, Le Havre, Baltimore, Norfolk, Savannah and Newark.

Moreover, 2M partners Maersk and MSC said they would further address schedule reliability by “resetting” their two other transatlantic loops by blanking the sailings from Europe of the TA3/NEUATL3 next week and the TA1/NEUATL1 in the first week of April.

They said the fourth loop, the TA4/NEUATL4, would remain “suspended until further notice”.

The suspension will be a big blow to the port of Liverpool which, at the end of last year, celebrated winning the service from Felixstowe, when the 2M took the decision to swap the UK call to “provide stability to the service”.

However, the success of the Peel Ports-owned facility in winning this and other business from the saturated UK container ports in the south has led to landside delays and slowed ship working, reported by The Loadstar last week, and again on Monday.

Feedback to The Loadstar this week suggests landside congestion has “improved slightly”, but hauliers continue to complain of a lack of straddle carriers to service vehicles at the T1 terminal.

According to eeSea data the average size vessel deployed on the suspended loop is 7,730 teu. A source told The Loadstar the average container exchange at Liverpool would be “around 1,000 boxes”.

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