May 13 - Hanjin Shipping, Hapag-Lloyd, "K"Line, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK Line) and Yang Ming have partnered to form THE Alliance - a new container shipping alliance covering East-West trade lanes.

The new partnership will build one of the leading networks in the container shipping industry combining approximately 3.5 million teu - or 18 percent share of the global container fleet capacity. It is expected to launch in April 2017.

There are ongoing merger discussions between Hapag-Lloyd and UASC, although an agreement on that business combination has not yet been reached. It is anticipated that UASC will become part of THE Alliance, which will increase the overall alliance capacity to more than 4 million teu.

According to a joint statement from the carriers: "This agreement is a milestone and will enable the six partners of THE Alliance to offer sailing frequencies and direct coverage in the market.

"The unique product will feature enhanced port coverage in Asia, North America, Europe including the Mediterranean as well as Middle East. The network of THE Alliance will ensure frequent sailings, high reliability and very attractive transit times for all shippers in the East-West trade lanes."