MSC set to reign as largest carrier through 2026

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MSC set to reign as largest carrier through 2026

Sea-Intelligence’s latest projections indicate that MSC is on track to significantly increase its fleet size, further cementing its position as the world’s largest carrier.

The analytic firm highlighted the limitations of a common approach to forecasting shipping lines’ future fleet sizes. Traditionally, analysts often add the current fleet size to the orderbook, neglecting factors like second-hand market trades and changes in chartered vessel usage.

A more insightful method, reports Sea-Intelligence, involves studying individual shipping lines’ fleet adjustment strategies over recent years. By considering how they’ve managed their fleets, analysts can better predict future fleet sizes, assuming consistency in their strategies.

Sea-Intelligence’s analysis found that using the simplistic approach to predict fleet sizes often overestimates actual growth. This suggests that when new ships are acquired, most carriers also reduce their fleet capacity by selling existing tonnage or terminating charter agreements.

Notably, MSC and ONE differ from this trend by expanding their fleets.

© Sea-Intelligence

READ: Blank sailings show substantial reduction

Figure 1 displays the estimated fleet sizes for April 2026 using either a simple or adjusted method. The adjusted approach considers current tonnage strategies and assumes that the same strategies used in the past two years will continue for the next two years.

According to Sea-Intelligence’s projections, MSC is expected to significantly increase its fleet size, solidifying its lead over CMA CGM, which is projected to become the second-largest carrier. This change in rankings would bump Maersk down to third place.

Hapag-Lloyd has unveiled its new 2030 strategy, which includes the goal of remaining among the top five carriers. However, Sea-Intelligence warns that achieving this goal may require a shift in approach compared to the previous two years, or else Hapag-Lloyd risks falling to sixth place, behind ONE.

In its latest report, Sea-Intelligence found that global schedule reliability has begun to improve, with the March 2024 statistic up 1.6 percentage points Month-over-Month (MoM) to 54.6 per cent.

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