Drewry: Liner Alliances Make Illogical Port Choices

By examining the correlation between carrier terminal ownership and the choice of port calls by the 2M and upcoming Ocean and THE liner alliances, Drewry said that the choice of port call is often not in line with carrier terminal ownership interests.

The shipping consultancy conducted a research analysing the relationship between the extent of interests in terminals that carriers have in ports in a selection of gateway and transhipment port markets, and the ports of call in these markets, as selected by the three major alliances that will be in place from second-quarter 2017.

Gateway markets included Benelux ports, the Pacific South West and South China/Hong Kong, while transhipment markets covered hubs in Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean, Middle East and Central America/Caribbean.

The research showed that in the Benelux gateway port market, the port choices made by the Ocean and THE alliances correlate very closely to the member lines’ terminal interests, but for the 2M the opposite is true.

“What this analysis shows is that individual lines are not entirely in control of their own destinies when it comes to port choices, as partner lines in their alliances may have conflicting port choice preferences and particular idiosyncrasies,” Neil Davidson, Drewry’s senior analyst for ports and terminals, said.

The horse-trading between alliance members extends beyond port choices and into the choice of specific terminals within any given port, according to Drewry.

“Even if a terminal operator brings in a shipping line as a joint venture partner, this is no absolute guarantee of securing an alliance’s volume,” Davidson concluded.

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