Liner rivals gain ground as Maersk retreats

The world’s largest container shipping company looks content to let rivals increase their market share while it holds back from adding capacity in the next year.

Maersk’s share of global container shipping capacity has actually shrunk by 1.5% in the last 12 months, according to analysis by Alphaliner. The carrier’s main rivals have gained ground during the period. The total capacity operated by Maersk and its various subsidiaries, including the likes of Hamburg Sud and Safmarine, has declined by 2.6% to 4.02m teu, compared to 4.11m teu a year ago. During the same period, global capacity increased by 6% to 22.69m teu.

“Maersk is expected to continue to retreat in the next twelve months as its CEO, Søren Skou, has confirmed that it will not pursue further acquisitions or order large new ships in 2019,” Alphaliner stated in its most recent weekly report.

Moreover, Maersk could face an added challenge next month, when the forced withdrawal brought about by Chinese autorities from the Danish carrier’s current Far East – East Coast South America partnerships will trigger a major shake-up on that trade.

“Maersk is expected to come under pressure in the coming months with rivals keen to further erode its market share,” Alphaliner concluded.

China’s Cosco has been the largest gainer in the last 12 months, with its cumulative capacity share (including OOCL) growing from 11.6% to 12.4%. Cosco has also had an enormous delivery schedule this year.

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. Hi Sam, a question for this analysis: what about the total of teu of capacity in the market?. Have you got that number to compare if the space offer has declined from november to november?. Thanks a lot for your assistance.

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