Hapag-Lloyd and Maersk join forces

The two shipping lines have entered into an operational partnership called ‘Gemini Cooperation,’ which will officially begin in February 2025. Both players expect their long-term cooperation to result in higher transport quality, greater reliability of transport operations, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. As a result of this decision, Hapag-Lloyd will leave the shipping group ‘THE Alliance’ at the end of JAN25 (Hapag-Lloyd, ONE, Yang Ming, and HMM) which will tear a hole in their global maritime network.

Compared to THE Alliance, Gemini will lead to quicker, cleaner, and more efficient transportation services, benefitting customers and the environment, stated Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO Hapag-Lloyd in an online call informing the media about the specifics of the new partnership. The two liners have a similar business culture, and with Copenhagen-based Maersk “we have found a like-minded partner who shares our passion for quality and sustainability,” the executive exclaimed. Both box carriers together offer the market shipping capacity of 3,4 million TEU, with Maersk accounting for 60% and Hapag-Lloyd for 40%. In his presentation, Mr. Habben Jansen placed great emphasis on quality matters. A survey conducted last October, shows that Hapag-Lloyd is still failing to meet its own targets in this respect, despite increasing approval from customers. Only 58% of respondents were satisfied with the company’s performance. Yet, just a year before, it was a meager 29%.

Strategic decisions of the “Gemini” partners A.P. Moeller-Maersk and …

Major operational network
Now Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd intend to set up an operational network at scale, based on joint hub and spoke traffic and mutual terminal access in key ports. Their aim is to offer 26 global services, among them 5 transatlantic services, 9 between the Far East and the USA, 11 Asia-India-Europe, and one linking Asia and ports in the Middle East. Their joint network centers around 12 owned or controlled terminal hubs, such as Tangier, Cartagena, Singapore or Wilhelmshaven, Rotterdam, and Bremerhaven in Northern Europe. Hamburg will lose volumes in the region of 10%, estimated the executive. The main shipping services are complemented by numerous regional feeder and shuttle services, which enable large vessels to save time and up the operational reliability since they call at fewer ports.

Aside their network integration, both Gemini partners point out that they will continue operating parts of their fleets on their own accounts. There is no time limit on the agreement. “We are assuming long-term cooperation with Maersk,” the executive said.

… Hapag-Lloyd have to be consented by both parties in order to become effective – photos: credit Maersk & Hapag-Lloyd.

Counting on approval by Q3 of 2024
Asked if Maersk Air Cargo is part of the Gemini concept, he clearly denied this issue. At the same time, he pointed out that his company’s major stakeholders, Kuehne+Nagel and the City of Hamburg, were informed before the Gemini deal was inked.

Habben Jansen expects no surprises from the competition watchdogs. “All necessary filings have been done, so we are counting on regulatory approval in Q3 of 2024.”

For THE Alliance, the imminent exit of Hapag-Lloyd, its largest and most influential member, in January 2025, is a bitter loss. It will leave a large gap in its global network, that will be difficult to fill.



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