So far, the two major shipping companies have been competitors. From next year, Hapag-Llloyd and Maersk will become “twins” with part of their fleets.
The container shipping companies Hapag-Lloyd and Maersk want to sail the world’s oceans as partners with part of their fleets in the future. In order to enable customers to receive more punctual deliveries and to overcome the challenges of the climate-neutral conversion, they have agreed on a cooperation, as the companies jointly announced on Wednesday in Hamburg and Copenhagen. The alliance is scheduled to start in February 2025 and is called the “Gemini Cooperation”. “Gemini” means “twins” in Latin and in English.
Both partners will give up their previous alliances with other shipping companies at the beginning of next year. Next January, Hapag-Lloyd will leave the previous alliance “THE Alliance” with the shipping companies ONE from Japan, Yang Ming from Taiwan and HMM from South Korea. Maersk and the world’s largest shipping company MSC had already announced at the beginning of 2023 that they would dissolve their alliance, called “2M”, in January 2025.
According to the industry service “Alphaliner”, the Danish Maersk is the world’s number two container shipping company with a fleet of more than 670 ships. The Hamburg shipping company Hapag-Lloyd is in fifth place with almost 270 ships. However, not all of the two partners’ fleets are included in the alliance.
Around 290 ships
The new cooperation will include a pool of around 290 ships with a combined capacity of 3.4 million standard containers (TEU), according to the statement. Maersk will contribute 60 percent of the capacity, Hapag-Lloyd the remaining 40 percent.
“As part of the agreement, the two companies have set the ambitious goal of achieving schedule reliability of over 90 percent once the network is fully deployed,” it said. Hapag-Lloyd boss Rolf Habben Jansen expects the quality of the offer to be better.
“In addition, we will benefit from improvements in efficiency in our operations and joint efforts to further accelerate the decarbonization of our industry,” said Habben Jansen. Maersk wants to achieve “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, Hapag-Lloyd by 2045.
Is there criticism?
Shipping alliances are not without controversy in the maritime economy. For example, land-based transshipment companies fear that shipping companies will have greater market power. That’s why they lobbied the EU Commission to end the so-called block exemption rule. This gave shipping companies reduced competition rules when cooperating. The corresponding regulation expires on April 25th. “However, this does not mean that cooperation between shipping companies would then be illegal under EU antitrust law,” says the Brussels authority.
The new alliance has negative consequences for Germany’s largest port, Hamburg. According to Hapag-Lloyd, the “Gemini Cooperation” will focus on those ports where Hapag-Lloyd or Maersk own or control terminals. In Germany these are primarily Bremerhaven and Wilhelmshaven. This should be significantly strengthened. Hapag-Lloyd is planning a total increase in cargo of 20 percent, but also announced that Hamburg should expect a decrease in cargo of around ten percent.