THE United States Federal Maritime Commission is convening to assess the level of concern among rival shipping lines on the impact of the proposed P3 alliance among Maersk Line, CMA CMG and MSC.
The current ocean carrier drive for greater economies of scale through bigger alliances has far-reaching consequences for the container industry that regulatory authorities will find it difficult to assess, according to London's Drewry Maritime Research.
For shippers, the advantages gained through the creation of bigger alliances will outweigh the disadvantages, say Drewry analysts, adding that they will get a better service.
On the other hand, they concede, the risk of reduced competition is also clear, though those sharing vessels may well find themselves competing more on price than on service differentiation as port pair frequencies, transit times and schedule reliability will all be the same.
The G6 Alliance's proposed expansion into the Asia/west coast North America and north Europe/east coast North America tradelanes in 2Q 2014 is just another step in the current process of ocean carrier schedule rationalisation, they said.
Drewry advises the shipping community to expect more of the same, including the merging of services, should such be approved by regulatory authorities. Greater economies of scale are required to compete against the P3 alliance.
Hapag-Lloyd, OOCL, NYK alliance will likely double the frequency of their seven eastbound sailings a week from Asia to the west coast of North America when they share vessels with HMM, APL and MOL, and vice-versa. This excludes direct services between Asia and Mexico, which are outside of the scope of the agreement.
Through this process, their market share of effective eastbound vessel capacity will grow from 14.5 per cent and 16.5 per cent respectively to 31 per cent, which is significantly more than P3's current 16 per cent, ignoring slot swaps and charters.
In the transatlantic (excluding Montreal services), Hapag-Lloyd, OOCL and NYK will increase the frequency of their weekly services from four to six, and HMM, APL and MOL from two to six. This will take their market share of effective westbound vessel capacity from 26 per cent and 12 per cent respectively to 38 per cent, not far short of Maersk-MSC-CMA CGM's 39 per cent.
But this will not gain much in the way of economies of scale on its own without schedule rationalisation, said Drewry. On the one hand big shippers stand to gain much from improved service frequency and a more regular supply of vessel capacity in the short term, thereby reducing the risk of shutouts and roll-overs in times of tight supply.
Source : HKSG.