The changing landscape of global container shipping alliances

In the latest news relating to global container shipping alliances, the OCEAN Alliance, comprising CMA CGM (No.3 in the world), COSCO SHIPPING (4), Evergreen (7), and Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL – part of COSCO), has extended its operational cooperation for another five years, solidifying its presence until 2032..

The Ocean Alliance is one of the 3 major global container shipping alliances currently in play..

This announcement by Ocean Alliance is a significant one for a few reasons..

  1. 2M, the current number 1 global container shipping alliance in terms of market share, which is a cooperation between MSC (1) and Maersk (2), will come to an end in 2025..
  2. When that happens, the Ocean Alliance will take over as the world’s largest global container shipping alliance with a market share of 29.10% based on its current market share standing..
  3. Gemini Cooperation, the new alliance between Maersk and Hapag Lloyd (5) due to start in February 2025 is expected to command a 21.60% market share making it the second-largest global container shipping alliance..
  4. THE Alliance comprising ONE (6), YML (9), and HMM (8) remains at the bottom of the log albeit reduced to an 11.60% market share..
  5. As of now, MSC, the world’s largest container shipping line will be on its own with a strong 19.90% market share..
  6. The Non-Alliance lines, which will include ZIM (10) with their 2.3% market share, will increase its market share to 17.80%..
    The new global container shipping alliance order
    Significant shifts in global container shipping dynamics
    The recent adjustments in container shipping alliances indicate a few significant shifts and possibilities:

    • MSC will go it alone and may choose to stay that way or may allow others (like ZIM) to join them..
    • Hapag-Lloyd’s decision to leave has weakened THE Alliance by removing 7% of its capacity, and there are concerns about how THE Alliance will fare considering the now-on/now-off “sale talk” of HMM..
    • According to Drewry, the current alliances manage 87 trade loops, whereas non-alliance carriers handle 24 trade loops..
    • From 2025, the alliances will oversee 95 loops, with the potential for an increase in non-alliance loops, depending on the actions of any of the non-alliance carriers..
    • Post-2025, the Ocean Alliance is set to enhance its market dominance, boasting the largest market share..
    • The Gemini Cooperation will emerge as a major player commanding the highest number of loops on the Trans-Atlantic and securing the second-largest presence on the Asia-Europe, Asia-Mediterranean, and Europe-North America East Coast routes..
    • Transhipment hubs are expected to become more relevant for some of the alliances using their feeder vessels than 3rd party feeders as per Drewry..
    • THE Alliance is projected to expand its influence on critical Trans-Pacific and Asia-Middle East routes..

    Conclusion

    The recent changes in global container shipping alliances are set to alter the landscape for global shipping lines, irrespective of their alliance..

    While some lines might gain advantages from these developments, others may not fare as well.. Nonetheless, these shifts are poised to transform the overall dynamics of global container shipping, especially considering the order books for newbuilds..

    In addition, the ongoing disruptions to global shipping such as those in the Red Sea and Panama Canal, coupled with issues like shipping lines’ overcapacity and shortage of containers due to the longer routing of containers around Africa, could further influence market dynamics..

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