Maersk Line expanded capacity at double the pace of the overall shipping industry in 2011, helping the world’s largest container ship operator regain market share and setting the stage for larger additions in coming years, according to industry analysts Alphaliner.
Container shipping capacity worldwide expanded 7.9 percent to 15.4 million 20-foot equivalent units, last year, Alphaliner said. Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping and CMA CGM — the world’s three largest carriers — all grew at a double-digit pace.
Maersk built up its fleet by 18 percent, or 392,000 TEUs, the firm said, pushing the Danish carrier’s market share to 16 percent, up 1.5 percentage points from the start of the year.
“In a departure from past practice, Maersk made no attempt to hide the actual capacity of the new 'EEE'-class vessels, sending a clear signal to the company’s rivals of its intention to maintain the lead in the liner market,” Alphaliner said.
Although final figures on global container volume have not been compiled, Drewry Shipping Consultants estimates overall demand in 2011 grew 6.5 percent. Much of that growth, however, likely came in secondary and emerging markets rather than the large east-west trade lanes that have absorbed the largest of the new ships.
Maersk, bidding to dominate the Asia-Europe trade lanes, has ordered 20 vessels with 18,000 TEUs of capacity apiece. The carrier’s share of global shipping capacity peaked at 18.2 percent at the end of 2005, following Maersk’s acquisition of P&O Nedlloyd.
Mediterranean Shipping had the second largest fleet growth in 2011, with 14 percent capacity growing by 250,000 TEUs, or by 14 percent. The Geneva-based carrier was followed by CMA CGM, which had 11 percent growth, and COSCO, which had 19 percent growth.