testata inforMARE

20 ottobre 2020 Il quotidiano on-line per gli operatori e gli utenti del trasporto 01:29 GMT+2

4. Overlapping of Operational Areas. Agreements, Consortia and Alliances.

The overlapping of operational areas of the large shipping companies in container traffic, which is a consequence of the need to establish networks of inland terminals, the magnitude of investments and financial requirements and the high sunk cost of the setting up and organization of the major complexes in the sector lead to the establishment of agreements, joint ventures, consortia and global alliances between the complexes themselves. This lessens the rigidity of the investments as well as the risks and is intended to rationalize - if not actually to optimize - the use of both the shipping fleet and the container fleet. In this kind of agreement, "slot arrangements" between the large companies and consortium groups constitute a particularly efficient instrument. They ultimately enable the reciprocal availability of the transport capacity of the shipping fleet and the container fleet.

The end result is the same as regards the move towards the concentration of traffic and the minimization of the number of ports of call for each ship and/or the fleet of each company. This move is due both to the need to reduce the idle time at ports of call - such time constitutes a kind of fixed (cost and time) factor for each port of call, which is a direct function of the investments and other charges of every hour and day of ship service - and to the "economies (of scale) of density" arising from the concentration of traffic (organization, basic services and equipment, costs of promotion and acquisition, etc.).

In this way - and thanks to a careful operating plan for feeder services between ports which are "hub" or "transhipment" ports for some, and terminals or supply ports for others - the need to minimize the number of ports of call for each ship and for the ships of a company is reconciled with the need to retain and not to lose traffic. That which a company in a consortium, joint venture or alliance loses by renouncing a given port of call is compensated for by the traffic acquired by other enterprises in the consortium or alliance in such port, as well as by that which the company gains which would otherwise go to other enterprises in the consortia, joint ventures or alliances if they were present in that port.

In this manner, the economies of density stemming from the concentration of traffic of one company or group - unlike what normally occurs with air transport, where the concentration of traffic in a small number of airports and on a small number of routes results in high social costs in the form of congested airports and congested skies, and unlike what happens due to the effect of excess territorial concentration of businesses and housing in the haphazard growth of decentralized urban agglomerations - manage to avoid the generation of the side-effects of congestion, and therefore to keep at bay most of the diseconomies of the concentration itself.


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Dipartimento di Economia - Sezione Trasporti

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