CMA CGM may soon take over Maersk as the biggest container line

Maersk has been the world’s biggest shipping line for some time, however, the odds are going to turn in favor of the presently second largest – CMA CGM. It has an order book of 122 ships, a capacity of 1.24m teu, and the Ocean Alliance with those just below it – Cosco and Evergreen. In consolidation, the total capacity of the Alliance will include 927,000 teu and 840,000 teu of Cosco and Evergreen, respectively. This makes CMA’s fleet and capacity of 635 vessels and 3.5 teu competitively close to Maersk’s 683 ships and 4.1 teu.

In comparison to CMA, Maersk’s order book is just 33 ships, with a capacity of 405,000 teu. Maersk is also currently focusing on its sustainability goals and introducing methanol-powered vessels to its fleet. On the other hand, CMA’s offered capacity is expected to reach 4.2m teu over the period of the next few years, placing CMA above Maersk in the list of the biggest shipping services providers.

Moreover, CMA CGM has also been aggressive in the second-hand containership market and the charter market in the past three years, investing a significant amount of its pandemic-fuelled profits into organic growth. S&P broker contacts have told The Loadstar that, after MSC, the French carrier was the most proactive in the second-hand market, acquiring some 105 vessels since August 2020, according to Alphaliner data. The consultant said the nominal capacity of these ships is 427,000 teu, ranging in size from 1,000 to 14,000 teu.

According to reports, CMA CGM has also dominated the charter market, booking 170 charters this year. The numbers are significantly higher than its competitors and hints at the excess cargo requirements while its rivals are struggling to fill their ships. Also, the official incorporation of its intra-European shortsea subsidiary, Containerships, is expected to encourage further development of its shortsea routes and more hub-and-spoke feedering while deploying its own tonnage.

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