Members of the New World and Grand alliances, moving to match the expansion of larger rivals, said Tuesday they will forge a new vessel-sharing alliance operating 90 vessels on Asia-Europe trade lanes.
The formation of the G6 Alliance follows Maersk Line’s market-changing launch of its Daily Maersk “conveyer belt” service this year and the far-reaching partnership announced this month between CMA CGM and Mediterranean Shipping.
“This is a milestone agreement that significantly improves service coverage in the Asia-Europe market,” the NWA and Grand Alliance member carriers said in a statement. “We will offer sailing frequencies and direct coverage that compete with anyone in the market.“
Set to begin in April 2012, the new frequencies will include 40 ports covered by 90 ships of up to 14,000 20-foot-equivalent units. APL, Hyundai Merchant Marine and MOL make up the NWA, and the Grand Alliance consists of Hapag-Lloyd, NYK Line and Orient Overseas Container Line.
The partnership is the most dramatic response yet in the shipping industry to a Daily Maersk service that has created a domino effect of new vessel agreements that look to rationalize costs and services while staving off full-fledged carrier mergers.
Although many carrier executives have publicly scoffed at the impact of the Maersk service, which seeks to offer highly coordinated departures and predictable delivery schedules from Asia to Europe, industry executives say Maersk Line has sharply increased its share of the Asia-Europe market this fall.
The NWA and Grand Alliance members all but named the Maersk service in their announcement. “The new alliance will be characterized by fast transit times, broad port coverage and the latest vessels,” they said in the announcement. The new alliance will enable the most efficient integration of the largest ship sizes that will be introduced over the next 30 months.”
The network features seven joint services operating between Asia and Europe and two services to the Mediterranean. The routings can be found here.