Navigating the Seas of Change

The maritime industry is poised for a seismic shift as shipping giants Maersk Line and Hapag-Lloyd unveiled their plans to form the Gemini Cooperation come February 2025. This strategic move comes on the heels of Maersk Line concluding its 2M alliance wit

h MSC in January 2025 and Hapag-Lloyd's subsequent departure from THE Alliance, leaving industry experts speculating on the imminent redrawing of liner alliances.

Simon Sundboell, founder of consultancy eeSea, noted on LinkedIn that Hapag-Lloyd's departure from THE Alliance, the consortium comprising HMM, Ocean Network Express (ONE), and Yang Ming, could potentially deal a significant blow. With Hapag-Lloyd holding nearly 1.98 million TEUs, its absence might challenge the survival of THE Alliance.

The fallout leaves THE Alliance with approximately 3.3 million TEUs, while Gemini Cooperation will command a slightly larger fleet at 3.4 million TEUs. Meanwhile, the Ocean Alliance, led by CMA CGM, COSCO Shipping Lines, and Evergreen Marine Corporation, emerges as the largest grouping with over 8.3 million TEUs.

Container vessel with Maersk and Hapag Lloyd containers.
Container vessel with Maersk and Hapag Lloyd containers.

This shake-up has triggered speculations about the frantic efforts of THE Alliance to seek new members. Sundboell suggests that carriers like ONE, HMM, and Yang Ming are likely engaged in urgent discussions. The ripples extend to CMA CGM and Cosco in the Ocean Alliance, contemplating the potential absorption of remaining THE Alliance carriers.

Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jansen cited "insufficient progress" on reliability as a key factor behind the German operator's departure from THE Alliance. Gemini Cooperation is setting an ambitious reliability target of 90%.

In a separate development, ex-chairman of Yang Ming, Bronson Hsieh, highlighted the cultural and commercial compatibility between Maersk Line and Hapag-Lloyd. He emphasized their shared commitment to environmental protection and dual-fuelled ships, positioning them as ideal partners.

Hsieh's insights into the welcoming stance toward operators of substantial scale in any alliance shed light on the complex dynamics of maritime partnerships. The industry now stands at a crossroads, with questions looming about potential mergers and acquisitions, the formation of a two-alliance world, and the role of MSC in this evolving landscape.

As the Gemini Cooperation sets sail, the maritime sector braces for transformative waves, navigating uncharted territories in the pursuit of reliability, efficiency, and strategic partnerships. Stay tuned as the industry adapts to this paradigm shift, exploring new alliances and embracing a future shaped by Maersk Line and Hapag-Lloyd's collaborative vision.