Giants plan links over world routes
By K.K. CHADHA
FOUR of the world's leading container shipping companies plans to form an alliance to provide liner services in the Asia-Europe and Asia-North America trade lanes, according to a statement.
Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL), American President Lines (APL), Japan's Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and Nedlloyd Lijnen (NLL) of the Netherlands said they had started negotiations which, if successful,ope service along with NLL's partners in the Tonnage Sharing Agreement (TSA) - Compagnie Generale Maritime Orient and Malaysia International Shipping Co.
MOL and the TSA group had earlier announced intentions to establish a joint service next year.
OOCL and APL would join this service under arrangements to be finalised in future discussions.
In the transpacific trade, APL and OOCL exchange vessel space, co-ordinate sailings and share terminals under an agreement that extends to 2005.
The four lines also are discussing the possibility of a joint, all-water service via the Panama Canal from Asia to the US east coast.
The four lines would share vessel space allowing for new, fast ships now being built for all four to be used to the maximum.
They are discussing co-ordinated service scheduled that would optimise the deployment of these vessels and provide each carrier's customers with the highest ocean transportation standards in both the Asia-Europe and Asia-North America trade lanes, an OOCL spokesman said.
This involves customers of one line having their containers possibly put on a ship operated by another line in the alliance.
''Assuming negotiations are successful, final agreements are completed and executed and all required government approvals are obtained, the alliance would be phased in over the next two years,'' he said.
The lines will not take equity stakes in each other.
The OOCL spokesman said the four aimed to strike a deal within the next three or four months.
The alliance also would need approval from the US Federal Maritime Commission.
In March, Orient Overseas International (OOIL), the parent company of OOCL, ordered six new container ships from Japanese and South Korean shipyards.
With a capacity of 4,960 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units), the about 300 metre long and 36 metre wide ships will be among the largest in the world.
They also will be among the fastest, powered by Sulzer engines, capable of service speeds of 24.6 knots.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan will build four of the vessels and South Korea's Samsung group the other two. Delivery is scheduled for 1995 and 1996.
The arrival of the new ships will reduce the average age of the ships in OOCL's fleet from 14 years to 11.
The fleet consists of 25 ships, some of which will be sold.
after the new vessels are delivered. would create the alliance over the next two years.