“Alliances are everything”

By: | Issue #647 | at 08:00 AM | Channel(s): Liner Shipping  

“Alliances are everything”

In 2017, liner shipping feels the effects of global realignment of containership operations.

“Alliances are everything,” a US East Coast port executive noted just prior to the April 1st (2017) launch of THE Alliance.

He’s right. Everything in liner shipping is about alliances: routes, rates, and ultimately ROIs (Return-On-Investments). It has often been remarked about the shipping business, the only constant is change – and if you don’t like change, find another business. But change for the containership business is rarely true upheaval. Carriers come and carriers go, vessels get larger, schedules add and delete ports but the basic elements of the business are still there.

This time it’s different. The combination of merger and acquisition activity, the reshuffling of the carrier alliances, and even without the Hanjin bankruptcy (see Matt Miller’s story page 3), represents a nearly unprecedented transfiguration filtering through every aspect of the business. In fact, listening to Maersk’s take on the digitalization of the industry (A presentation was made at CONECT’s Trade & Transportation Conference by David P. Zimmerman, Vice President, Sales-North America for Maersk Line), a new type of business may be evolving right before our eyes.

But why now? The answer is not a “Eureka moment” as much as a weary admission of the obvious. Virtually all of the major containership operators have all come to the same bottom line conclusion – no one carrier, no matter how big or well managed, can go it alone. With that self-recognition, a global re-alignment of containership operations was a forgone conclusion. The only real question was what the realignment would look like and the influence it would have on vessel rotations…

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George Lauriat's avatar

American Journal of Transportation