International Handbook of Maritime Business
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International Handbook of Maritime Business

Edited by Kevin Cullinane

The International Handbook of Maritime Business is a timely, comprehensive and insightful overview of the key contemporary research issues in maritime business.
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Chapter 9: Maritime Networks: A Source of Competitiveness for Shipping Lines

Antoine Frémont


Antoine Frémont 1 Introduction The generally accepted view nowadays appears to be that as a result of the impact of containerisation, shipping lines propose similar maritime services with identical vessels. As the maritime companies are unable to create a comparative advantage on the sea, they attempt to do so on inland services. However, it was by developing new maritime capacity that the Asian shipping lines asserted themselves in the 1980s and new European shipping lines such as the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) or the Compagnie Maritime d’Affrètement (CMA) asserted themselves as very large global carriers in the 1990s and 2000s. The hypothesis of this chapter is that the maritime line remains the core activity of the shipping lines. The maritime networks of the shipping lines are not the same from a geographical standpoint. The competitiveness of a shipping line depends partly on its capacity to operate a maritime network which is differentiated from that of its competitors. Once a hypothesis has been justified, a method for studying the networks of shipping lines using a database on weekly containerised transport capacity (WCTW) is proposed. It will then be shown that the Asian shipping lines, which are grouped together in large alliances, differ from the European shipping lines Mærsk, MSC and CMA. This leads us to propose a historical interpretation, based on the unequal power of the maritime networks, in order to explain the upheavals that have occurred in the global hierarchy of shipping lines, first in favour of...

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