Diego Aponte: ‘Covid-19 has created a public health issue unprecedented in our lifetimes’

In a rare statement, Diego Aponte, group president and CEO of privately held Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), has issued an open letter today, outlining what his company, the world’s second largest boxline, is doing to carry on business during the coronavirus.

“The spread of Covid-19 has created a public health issue unprecedented in our lifetimes, triggering an unexpected shock for societies and economies,” the letter from Aponte starts.

Aponte wrote that container lines have a vital role to play in the coming months to ensure the world keeps getting its supplies, and like other lines, the MSC boss revealed his company was upping its digital portfolio to handle more online demand.

“As an essential cog for global trade it is imperative that we, together with our customers, keep the world moving despite the difficult operating conditions we are all experiencing,” Aponte wrote, moving on to praise his staff ashore and at sea.

Aponte told clients that online booking platform myMSC is now being upgraded, echoing similar sentiments made by other liner bosses during the outbreak.

Splash reported last week on Rolf Habben Jansen, the CEO of Hapag-Lloyd, highlighting the German carrier’s strong digital portfolio of services, urging customers to book more items online during the Covid-19 crisis.

“At this time we all need to focus, to restructure some of our processes and to overcome the challenge that our teams are very often split and the majority of employees work from home,” Habben Jansen wrote in a note to clients, concluding: “Let’s go digital – and make your life easier with our various digital solutions customized to your needs.”

In an ongoing survey carried on this site, 85% of readers believe the coronavirus will see digital efforts by shipping lines sped up.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Shipping industry is drowning in its own blood. Havent seen idustry leaders make acqusitions to vertically expand/consolidate their empires further in a long time.
    I mean a boxship company going into online/offline retail business makes a lot of sense with full control over their supply lines, right?
    (e. Maersk has an insurance arm operating among its other boxship subsidiaries)

    In 2015 the industry has contributed about $14B to the UK economy, and worldwide only $21B of profits made during the last 8 years, so little for so long.(With all the tax evasions that is) This year analysts are forcasting a $23B loss, no silver lining at all.

    IMO should consider giving more voice to the private stakeholders when crafting their instruments in the future, so atleast then we can hope our industry go-green on both sides of the aisle(Environment and “Bottom line”)

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