Shipping Line Alliances

Shipping Line Alliances:

You may be under the impression that there are a whole host of shipping lines operating on the world’s major trade lanes, all competing against each other to carry your business.

The reality has been rather different for quite some time as the shipping lines operating on the major trade lanes have formed a series of alliances that have pooled their ships and operational infrastructure and so operationally they operate as one company. If you look at a modern container ship it immediately become obvious as each one will have a selection of containers loaded from that company’s alliance members. So for example an NYK ship would also have Hapag Lloyd & MOL containers loaded on it.

The number of these alliances has reduced nearly every year and until the end of March there are four of these alliances but effective 1 April 2017 there will only be three as the following rather crazy and admittedly difficult to follow chart shows:


Alliances 1


Or put simply there are now:

Maersk & MSC + Hyundai slot chartering (2M Alliance)

CMA, Cosco, Evergreen & OOCL (Ocean Alliance)

Hapag Lloyd, K Line, MOL, NYK & Yang Ming (The Alliance)


You may have noticed that there are some famous names missing and the answer to this is that they no longer exist. So for example:

Safmarine – now part of Maersk

Hamburg Sud – now owned by Maersk

APL – now part of CMA

UASC – merging with Hapag Lloyd

Hanjin – now closed. Most ships are being sold for scrap and being broken up.

CSAV – part of Hapag Lloyd

China Shipping – merged with Cosco


So, what on the face of it looks like lots of shipping line options to choose from in terms of services offered is in reality now a choice of just three.