GERMANY's Hapag-Lloyd expects ocean-going shipping alliances to expand inland the preferred option of industry consolidation seems too far off to be feasible, says Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jansen.
"Most alliances focus on the ocean leg. But if you look ahead, I would say that the big four alliances will have comparable slot costs. There is more that can be done. Things that can be done to optimise terminals and inland trucking," he said.
Mr Habben Jansen said the G6 Alliance was already actively exploring these areas, as it would allow them to expand their service and also take out costs.
One G6 member, Japan's Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), has already announced a change of focus to inland logistics and de-emphasising its traditional ocean container shipping role.
Speaking at a Containerisation International shipping conference in Hamburg, Mr Habben Jansen said he would like to see further industry consolidation to help combat volatility but doubted it would soon happen.
Nine of the top 20 shipping lines are family-owned or government-owned in whole or in part, thus making mergers difficult if not unlikely, leaving little hope for major sector-wide consolidation in the short term.
That made shipping alliances the "only realistic alternative", but he would like to see the alliance expanded further to include inland systems.
"We believe that consolidation will continue but also that it will move slowly. So we need to look at other ways to become more competitive and more cost-efficient and that is where alliances are useful.
Said Mr Habben Jansen: "Looking at the size of the ships today, we have to co-operate because no-one can fill the capacity on the water. But we also have to take the consequence and explore every possible way to work together beyond the port."
One roadblock was regulatory restriction. "We welcome that discussion with the authorities to jointly explore what is possible and what is not, but in the end offer a better service to the customer and better choices between various parties," he said.
Source : HKSG, 29.04.15.