The newly formed G6 alliance of ocean carriers has sped up the launch of its Asia-Europe service by a month to the first week of March to coincide with steep hikes in freight rates on the world’s biggest trade route.
The earlier start also coincides with the launch of a rival joint Asia-Europe partnership between Mediterranean Shipping and CMA CGM.
“Customer response to the G6 alliance is strong, the latest economic condition in the trade supports the timing of the launch, and we are ready to meet the market’s expectations,” the alliance said.
The G6 alliance, which was unveiled in late December two weeks after the announcement of the CMA CGM-MSC partnership, joins the members of the Grand Alliance — Hapag-Lloyd, NYK and OOCL — and the New World Alliance — APL, Hyundai Merchant Marine and MOL.
The new joint services will be accompanied by a wave of rate hikes by leading carriers averaging $750 to $800 per 20-foot container westbound out of Asia to Europe, effective March 1.
The G6 will launch six services between Asia and north Europe in the first week of March, with sailings from Japanese ports to begin after consultations with the Japan Harbor Transportation Board and labor unions. A seventh service, providing direct coverage to the Bohai Bay ports in Dalian and Xingang, will follow “when it can be supported by sustainable trade conditions.”
The alliance will continue the existing Asia-Mediterranean Express Service and will also launch a new Asia-Black Sea Express service in the first week of April. The G6 carriers will operate 90 ships with capacities up to 14,000 20-foot equivalent units covering 40 ports.
The alliance is estimated to have around 24 percent of Asia-Europe capacity, the same as the MSC- CMA CGM partnership, with Maersk Line’s independent operation consisting of about 18 to 19 percent of capacity.
The G6 and MSC-CMA CGM alliances followed the launch of Maserk Line’s Daily Maersk “conveyor belt” service in October. The formation of carrier alliances threatens to prolong “unrelenting” rate wars on the Asia-Europe trades and could spell “disaster” for lines in 2012, according to container market analyst Alphaliner.