The growing service cooperation between Hamburg Süd and the Ocean Three carriers CMA CGM, CSCL and UASC could mean that it is only a matter of time before these carriers make the formal announcement that Hamburg Süd is to become a fully-fledged member of Ocean Three, or Ocean Four as it will presumably have to be re-named, according to the UK-based shipping consultants Drewry.
Indeed, utterances to the press by the chiefs of the two European companies have pretty much said there is nothing to stop it from happening, says Drewry.
If and when it happens, while the Ocean Four would remain much smaller in total capacity terms than the 2M, it would have a distinct competitive edge thanks to its unique mix of East-West and North-South services, which could force the other mega-alliances to follow suit, according to Drewry.
Opening the door to another company into your trade via slot charter deals is risky in that new entrants often have to build a presence through low rates – buying their way in so to speak, but in the case of Hamburg Süd and its Ocean Three ‘friends,’ Drewry says the risk/rewards are pretty equally split.
Were they to escalate their relationship they would be even less likely to undermine each other. Drewry sees the Ocean Four as a logical fit that would provide its members with a valuable USP to global customers.