© Vladimir Serebryanskiy_cosco 80073176
© Vladimir Serebryanskiy

The Ocean Alliance has overtaken the 2M alliance, adding the market share lead on the Asia-Europe tradelane to its already dominant position on the transpacific.

The vessel-sharing alliance of CMA CGM, Cosco (including OOCL) and Evergreen did not follow rivals 2M and THE alliances in temporarily suspending an Asia-North Europe loop through to October, and has lifted its capacity share to 39% from 37% a year ago, according to Alphaliner data.

Market share in terms of capacity offered by 2M partners Maersk and MSC remains at 37%, while the THEA grouping of Hapag-Lloyd, ONE, Yang Ming and HMM is down two percentage points, at 23%.

The consultant said total vessel capacity on the Asia-Europe trades was “still well below pre Covid-19 levels”, at 361,100 teu as at 1 June, 17.1% lower than a year ago.

THEA and 2M Asia-Europe capacities are, respectively, 22.7% and 18% lower than last year, due to the suspension of services in response to Covid-19.

“The Ocean Alliance has not suspended a single service and only voided individual sailings to limit capacity,” said Alphaliner, noting that its capacity offering was down only 12.4% compared with 1 June 2019.

The Ocean Alliance’s indirect market share grab would in other times have been the pre-cursor of a rates war. However, so far The Loadstar has not heard of any examples of aggressive discounting by its members, evidenced by the robust performance of the Asia-Europe components of the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index over recent weeks.

Elsewhere, despite the impact of Covid-19, Alphaliner said that average weekly capacity from the Far East to North America was only 5.3% lower than in 2019.

“Weekly capacity from the Far East to North America stood at almost 436,300 teu on 1 June, which was 24,300 teu lower than 1 June 2019,” said Alphaliner.

Moreover, it noted that the resumption of the 2M Asia-USWC TP8/Orient service from 8 June, the launch of Zim’s China to Los Angeles express service on 23 June and with the launch of the 2M’s China-Long Beach service planned for 6 July would have virtually returned transpacific capacity to pre-Covid levels, with some 23,000 teu returned to the route.

Transpacific ocean carriers have been encouraged by a run of successful GRIs, despite the pandemic, which has seen rates to the US west coast surge 57% higher than 12 months ago, and rates to US east coast ports ahead by 18%. Indeed, Hapag-Lloyd has recently announced a $1,500 per 40ft GRI for the US west coast, effective 1 August, a lead other carriers are expected to follow.

The Ocean Alliance has by far the largest capacity share on the transpacific with 39%, up from 38% a year ago. THEA has increased its market share on the route from 25% to 30% due to HMM joining on 1 April, while the 2M has seen growth of 2% to a capacity share of 20%, attributed to its cooperation agreement with Zim.

Unlike the Asia-Europe trade, where other non-alliance capacity is just 1%, the ‘outsider’ share on the transpacific stands at 11%, a reduction from 18% last year.

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