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Chinese carriers dominate new entries into the top 50 liner rankings

SINCE the pandemic started there's been plenty of changes in the liner rankings, not just at the top where Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) has replaced Maersk.

In its latest weekly report, liner consultancy Sea-Intelligence has charted which carriers have risen up through the ranks over the past two and a half years and how the lines have tried to wean themselves off the charter market during the current sky-high markets.

Seven carriers have climbed into the top 50 ranks since January 2020 with the Chinese to the fore, according to Singapore's Splash 247.

CU Lines was not even in the top 100 at the outset of the pandemic, but now operates a fleet of 82,000 TEU and is the world's 24th largest carrier. Likewise, Hong Kong-registered BAL has leapt from outside the top 100 to 44th spot, one spot ahead of another new entrant Transfar, a liner with strong ties to China's top online retailer, Alibaba. Shanghai Jin Jiang, meanwhile, has seen its fleet grow by 124 per cent over the same timeframe and now occupies 35th spot in the top fifty line-up.

The non-Chinese related liners entering the top 50 club include Pasha Hawaii, Tropical Shipping and most intriguingly Russia's FESCO. Since the war with Ukraine began most global liners with the notable exception of China's Cosco, have stopped doing business with Russia. FESCO has managed to maintain its size despite sanctions over the past four months.

Also of note in the shuffling of largest liner rankings during the pandemic are the disappearance of three well-known brands - NileDutch, absorbed by Hapag-Lloyd; Heung-A, absorbed into Sinokor; and Transworld Feeders, which has now become part of Unifeeder.

The Sea-Intelligence report also looks at how liners have moved to own tonnage rather than charter it during the pandemic. The vast majority of carriers have seen the charter ratio of their fleet decline. For the carriers combined, they operated 56 per cent of their vessel capacity on charter in January 2020. This has now been reduced to 48 per cent in June 2022.

"This is most likely a clear reflection of the tight container market, leading carriers to attempt to get more control of their vessel fleet, in a market where the charter rates remain downright astronomical," Sea-Intelligence noted.

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Chinese carriers dominate new entries into the top 50 liner rankings
Chinese carriers dominate new entries into the top 50 liner rankings


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