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Container alliances drop direct calls in Hong Kong

Photo: Pixabay - Steven Yu Hong Kong skyline
Hong Kong is being dropped as a mainline port call on the east - west trades by major container shipping alliances.

From being the world’s busiest container port in late 1990s Hong Kong dropped to 10th in 2023 handling 14.4 million teu and the decline looks set to continue with line’s dropping deepsea calls.

Analysts Sea-Intelligence noted that the network overview from the Gemini Cooperation between Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd that starts in February 2025 contains no direct deepsea calls at Hong Kong Port. The new alliance is putting a focus on key hubs where the two lines have an operating interest in terminals, which they do not have in Hong Kong.

The Ocean Alliance’s updated 2024 network sees the number of direct calls in Hong Kong declined to just six from 11 previously. The Alliance’s transpacific network for 2025 sees Hong Kong being served by just a single Asia – US East Coast service with calls from the Pacific Northwest and Southwest service dropped.

The decline in Hong Kong’s dominance as container port over the last two decades has been characterised by the rise of mainland Chinese terminals which now hold six of the top 10 positions globally.

However, Sea Intelligence now sees another factor at play which may impact other transhipment ports. “While this does not bode well for the Port of Hong Kong, it should also be seen as a sign that an element of network consolidation is afoot, especially as it relates to transhipment hubs. Analysis of network design and network efficiency will show that fewer, but larger, hubs are economically more efficient,” said Alan Murphy, CEO of Sea Intelligence.

“Hong Kong appears to be the first major ‘victim’ of this. But as the new alliance constellations improve their networks in the coming years, it is likely that more ports could risk the same fate as Hong Kong."