With less than a year before Hapag-Lloyd leaves THE Alliance to form the Gemini Cooperation with Maersk, the remaining carriers are moving to expand their fleets.

South Korea president Yoon Suk-yeol said yesterday $4bn would be pledged to bring the country’s container shipping fleet to 2m teu by 2030 – a strategy understood to be focused on national flagship line and THEA member HMM.

At the opening of South Korea’s first fully automated container terminal, Pier 7, at Busan New Port, Mr Yoon said: “We want to strongly support national shipping companies during a period of reorganisation in the shipping industry.”

Hapag-Lloyd’s departure from THEA will leave ONE, HMM and Yang Ming with a joint capacity of 2.5m teu, making it the smallest container shipping alliance. Currently, ONE and Yang Ming capacity stands 1.83m teu and 705,816 teu, respectively.

Mr Yoon’s disclosure comes less than a month after ONE announced a $25bn investment to up its fleet capacity to 1.2m teu by 2026.

Linerlytica analyst Tan Hua Joo told The Loadstar THEA had to act to stay competitive against Gemini and Ocean Alliance. He said: “There is pressure on THE Alliance carriers in particular, as the group will be weakened by the departure of Hapag-Lloyd next year.

“Yang Ming would also need to react as it is now the smallest of the main carriers, and has even dropped behind Zim as of last week. These developments will certainly worsen the supply-demand imbalance.”

A HMM official told The Loadstar the company was reviewing its strategy, including increasing the number of operated ships.

Previously, it had been intended for HMM to have a fleet of 1.5m teu by 2030. Since 2021, HMM has ordered a dozen 13,600 teu ships, nine of 9,000 teu and three 1,800 teu feeder vessels, with deliveries to be made by 2026.

The South Korean carrier’s current in-service fleet stands at 801,308 teu. In June 2022, HMM agreed to charter a pair of 7,700 teu ships from Navios Maritime Partners for 14 years, starting from the vessels’ delivery from HJ Shipbuilding later this year.

Comment on this article

You must be logged in to post a comment.