The future of shipping alliances

The Gemini Cooperation set to improve schedule reliability

Drewry has analysed the impact that Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd’s new shipping alliance, the ‘Gemini Cooperation‘, will have on the maritime industry.

In its recent ‘Liner Alliances’ webinar on 27 February, the company discussed the formation of the Gemini Cooperation, its proposed ambitions and how it will impact other shipping alliances.

The announcement of the new shipping alliance follows Maersk’s decision last year to cease its 2M agreement with MSC in January 2025.

Drewry reported that 2M was terminated because of a strategic difference between Maersk and MSC, which is why Maersk entering another alliance was unexpected.

The Gemini Cooperation, which is scheduled to come into effect in February 2025, is said to focus on improving schedule reliability and delivering a flexible, robust and interconnected network.

When forecasting the maritime industry in 2025, Drewry revealed the Gemini Cooperation is predicted to have the largest number of loops on the transatlantic and the second largest on three other lanes.

According to Drewry, the number of loops marketed by Maersk is expected to reduce in some trades in 2025, though it will be significantly better off than had it operated independently.

Similarly, Hapag-Lloyd will also experience losses as a result of the Gemini Cooperation, with its greatest reduction in access to loops on the Asia – West Coast North America (WCNA) trade.

READ: Maersk adds Sohar port call to its ocean shipping service

Drewry further revealed that the cooperation intends to have two to three primary port connections per area, including strategic hubs that will allow for quicker round-trip durations while minimising mainline direct calls to increase reliability.

Additionally, the Gemini Cooperation reportedly plans to make extensive use of shuttle and transshipment to maintain port coverage.

In Asia, only major Chinese ports and Tanjung Pelepas are projected to have a high degree of direct calls, whereas ports that are becoming more important in the North American trade are expected to retain direct calls.

READ: Hapag-Lloyd announces rate increase

Tim Power, Managing Director and Head of Maritime Advisors at Drewry, said: “It looks to us that Gemini will have enough loops and frequency in most trades, but it depends on the reliability of its shuttle and transshipment operations go well.”

Drewry speculated that as a result of the Gemini Cooperation, MSC and the remaining THEA members may be examining ways to expand their service offerings with candidates like Wan Hai and ZIM.

Tony Mason, Associate at Drewry, stated: “Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd have vaguely discussed deploying large feeder ships with 6,000 TEU capacity on several routes. It is going to be interesting to see if this is the case, but they will not be conventional feeder ships operating the Gemini Cooperation.”

In September 2023, Sea-Intelligence reported that three major shipping alliances’ schedule reliability between Asia and North Europe improved.

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