Home » Breaking News, Maritime » Carrier mega-alliances acting as though already OK’d
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Maersk LineMore ocean carriers are joining the mega-alliance trend, seemingly undeterred even if they exceed the prescribed 30 percent of market share and regulatory authorities have yet to give their approval.

Evergreen Line is among the latest to sign up, confirming it will join the CKYH alliance between Asia and Europe at the beginning of March, according to a new Drewry Maritime Research report.

By the middle of the year, three mega-alliances could be up and running—P3 involving Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co., and CMA CGM; G6 involving Hapag-Lloyd, Nippon Yusen Kaisha, Orient Overseas Container Line, Hyundai Merchant Marine, APL, and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines; and CKYHE involving China Cosco, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Yang Ming, Hanjin Shipping, and Evergreen.

The consortia appear to be moving ahead with operational plans, apparently assuming that regulatory bodies will not object even if their market share surpasses 30 percent, said Drewry.

With the entry of Evergreen, CKYHE alliance’s market share of vessel capacity from Asia to Europe will still only reach 26 percent, below the 30 percent maximum recommended in the EU’s consortium guidelines. The P3’s market share will exceed the threshold, however.

On the trans-Atlantic trade lane between Northern Europe and US East Coast/Gulf where G6 has just confirmed the port rotations of its five weekly services, its overall share of westbound vessel capacity should remain at around 37 percent, well above the 30 percent maximum. P3 would also be in this position.

The G6 alliance has also proposed to extend its scope to the mighty trans-Pacific trade lane between Asia and the North American West Coast, where its eastbound market share of vessel capacity currently reaches about 32 percent—more than anyone else.

That the G6 has deemed it appropriate to circulate more details of its schedules now suggests that it anticipates no major objections from either the European Commission or the United States’ Federal Maritime Commission, stated Drewry.

This suggests that the alliances do not believe that market shares over 30 percent will be an issue provided no abuse of a dominant position can be proved.

For its part, the European Commission has given very little away on the subject so far, but it is not obliged yet to pass judgment. It could choose to just await proof of abuse of a dominant position from shippers before taking action.

“According to industry sources, the EC holds the view that a potentially dominant position like this can be accepted providing it entails clear advantages to shippers, and no abuse of a dominant position takes place,” said Drewry.

Photo: News Oresund

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