At the beginning of this month, Supply Chain Matters advised our readers to pay particular attention to the ongoing sober signs of global transportation structural changes. For the ocean container shipping segment, it was inevitable that a new multi-carrier alliance would emerge, and indeed it has.

Late last week came the announcement that Germany based Hapag-Lloyd AG intends to join five other Asian carriers to create a vessel-sharing alliance to be termed “The Alliance.” According to the announcement, this new alliance will control 18 percent of the world’s container shipping fleet with more than 620 vessels and a combined capacity of 3.5 million TEUs. Since there are reportedly merger talks between Hapag-Lloyd and United Arab Shipping are in the works, there may be additional capacity added to The Alliance.

Members have agreed to a five-year term scheduled to start operations in April 2017 subject to necessary maritime agency regulatory approvals.

Since three Asian based carriers currently belong to the existing G6 alliance, and three others belong to the CKHYE alliance, all will cease these alliances next year. Further, Hyundai Merchant Marine Co., now part of the G6 Alliance, in a separate statement indicated that once its business is normalized, it will initiate necessary processes to join The Alliance before September.

Just about a month ago, China’s Cosco Group, Hong Kong’s Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL); Taipei based Evergreen Marine and France’s CMA CGM agreed to form the Ocean Alliance, representing nearly 350 vessels across various global routes, and by CMA CGM estimates, could account for 26 percent market share in Asia-Europe routings.

These new alliances are being put forward to rival the market dominance of Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co., (MSC) which formed the 2M Alliance in 2014 that reportedly now controls roughly 34 percent of the Asia to Europe trade route.

It would be understandable if readers are confused at this point as to which carriers will eventually be associated with which asset pooling alliances. What is of more concern is the amount of global shipping capacity that could be eventually pooled and aligned to global shipping routes. Is it no wonder that reports are circulating that some global maritime regulatory agencies are becoming a bit concerned as to any imbalances in pricing power.