June 21 - This week's news that CMA CGM, Maersk Line and MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company are forming the P3 Network, an operational alliance on the East - West trades, has caused raised eyebrows from across the industry.

Created to to optimise operations and service in the face of overcapacity and declining volumes, the three lines have revealed that the P3 Network will operate at a capacity of 2.6 million teu - initially sailing 255 vessels on 29 loops-on three trade lanes: Asia-Europe, Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic.

The three lines said that the P3 Network vessels will be operated independently by a joint vessel-operating centre, but the three lines will continue to have wholly independent sales, marketing and customer service functions and claimed that each of the lines will offer more weekly sailings in their combined Network than they do individually.

The lines intend to begin P3 Network operations in the second quarter of 2014, subject to obtaining the approval of relevant competition and other regulatory authorities. Finalisation and signing of the contracts is planned for the 4th quarter of 2013.

Whatever is said about these three carriers claiming that the move is about creating greater efficiencies and improving customer service, some have said that that the developer might force smaller rivals out of the three trades.