A container shipping company perspective on the state of the port industry



CMA CGM Group, Marseille, France, speaks with Port Technology International


Led by its founder Jacques R. Saadé, CMA CGM is the world’s third largest container shipping company and is ranked number one in France.

Currently operating a fleet of 361 vessels, including 91 company-owned; the Group serves over 400 ports around the world. In 2008, it carried almost 9 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units). With a presence on all continents and in 150 countries through its network of 650 agencies, CMA CGM employs 16,500 people, including 4,200 in France.

The Group today offers a complete range of activities including shipping, handling facilities in port as well as logistics on land. Its objective is to offer its customers all over the world a proactive, innovative service, which reconciles quality and high performance with protection of the environment.

Port Technology International recently had an opportunity to sit down with CMA CGM Group and discuss the current state of the shipping and port industries, in an effort to ensure ports are providing the best service possible to shipping lines, and provide ports with a better understanding of the current needs and challenges that a constantly evolving shipping industry is facing.

Q: Can you provide our readers with a bit of background information on CMA CGM Group’s business model and strategy?
A: Being at the same time a container shipping line and a terminal operator gives CMA CGM Group a great insight. We know better than anyone the major factors that allow terminals to offer quality and customised services.

Since 2003 CMA CGM Group has indeed pursued investments, acquisitions and operations of shipping terminals in some of the world’s major ports. This strategy helps guarantee access to berthing slots at a time when port congestion is on the rise.

Currently, the Group holds concessions, equity stakes or cooperation agreements in 27 port terminals.

Q: When deciding on new shipping routes what are the factors that shipping lines consider when deciding which ports to call at, particularly when there are several options?

A: The main factors are obviously the market figures or hinterland dynamism. That means volumes and growth forecast, balance import/export, and freight rates. Shipping lines also consider factors such as filling factor, transit times and contributions to adjust vessels size to customers needs. Making a choice between ports in competition on a single market is linked to stevedoring efficiency and reliability, to port services and dues, and to maritime access.

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