Emergence of a three-tiered structure among top global carriers

During the pandemic the sizes of the fleets of the top four carriers have bunched closer together, while the next three have grouped closer and a third grouping made up of Yang Ming and HMM has become more equalised in recent months.

Analysts at Copenhagen-based Sea-Intelligence state in their latest Sunday Spotlight report that they have seen the emergence of a three-tiered structure among the world’s top nine liners over the past six months.

“The top-4 carriers of Maersk, MSC, COSCO and CMA CGM is one group, and they are expanding their gap to the rest of the carriers, but getting more equal in size amongst themselves,” Sea-Intelligence reported.

The second group comprises Hapag-Lloyd, Ocean Network Express (ONE), and Evergreen, who are also getting more equalised in terms of fleet size.

The third group of Yang Ming and HMM has a large distance up to the middle group, but has become much more equalised this year, as HMM’s large newbuilding program has already seen it surpass Yang Ming in size.

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. ….and the point is?
    No need to wait for the Sunday Spotlight – this can be seen and easily monitored by the excellent AXS Alphaliner Top 100 information.
    One could add the remark that PIL, Zim and Wan Hai form a fourth tier grouping but that won’t butter any parsnips either.

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