The container race: 2M and Ocean Alliance outdid The Alliance
The gap in terms of number of ships exceeding 18.000 TEUs in their fleets is growing, and in upcoming years this might really make a difference on the market
2M and Ocean Alliance – the latter as a result of the maxi-order placed by Evergreen for 10 new 23,000 TEUs container ships – are outdoing The Alliance in terms of overall capacity of their fleets, and especially of ULCVs (Ultra Large Container Vessels) with a capacity of over 18,000 TEUs.
Although overcapacity might frustrate the race for “big ships” since it allows to fill holds sufficiently, a greater number of mega container ships might really make a difference in terms of final freight, and consequently of market competitiveness.
The specialized magazine The Loadstar – quoting Alphaliner’s data – reported the number of units of the fleets of the 3 largest alliances within the container sector.
According to the current order book, in 2022 2M is expected to operate 62 ships with a capacity exceeding 18,000 TEUs, provided by Maersk and MSC respectively, while Ocean Alliance is expected to achieve 61 units with a capacity of over 18,000 TEUs thanks to the decisive contribution of Evergreen, which has just placed an order for 10 new units of this size and which, with 566,000 TEUs, has the most considerable order book in the sector.
Once all the newbuilds are delivered, the Taiwanese liner will surpass also One and Hapag-Lloyd and it will rank fifth in the list of single companies.
According to Alphaliner, in 2022 The Alliance will operate only 24 ULCVs exceeding 18,000 TEUs, including also the 10 23,000 TEUs ships to be added by Hyundai Merchant Marine on April the 1st 2020, when the South Koren carrier will officially join The Alliance.
According to some sources, the other shareholders of The Alliance decided to grant the full-membership status to Hyundai due to its tonnage contribution.
If in upcoming years the filling rates of these mega-ships are sufficient, having 23,000 TEUs units might really make a difference on the market.
In fact, according to the analysts quoted by The Loadstar, the length and the gross tonnage of 23,000 TEUs ships are very similar to those of 18,000 TEUs vessels. Therefore, operating costs should remain unvaried, though with far greater incomes (due to the higher load capacity) for larger container ships.
This gap would be large enough to affect freights, allowing 2M and Ocean Alliance members to apply lower prices compared to The Alliance, and consequently to “steal” market shares from their competitors.