Customer structure and sales

The customer base in the Container and segments consists mainly of shipping companies and freight forwarders. The services provided in the Logistics segment are aimed at various customer groups, ranging from steel companies and power plants (in the field of bulk cargo handling) to international operators of ports and other logistics centres (in the field of port consulting). The Real Estate segment lets its office space and commercial premises to German and international customers from a variety of sectors, ranging from logistics and trading companies to media, consulting and advertising agencies, fashion labels, hotels and restaurants, companies from the creative sector and start-ups.

Globally operating container shipping companies account for the largest share of HHLA’s . In ship handling, HHLA’s container work with shipping companies on a neutral basis (multi-user principle) and offer a wide range of high-quality services. The HHLA customer base remains in a state of flux due to consolidation in the container shipping segment in recent years and regular changes to the network. In the past two years, however, there have been no further mergers or acquisitions among the top ten container shipping companies.

Top 10 shipping companies

by carrying capacity in thousand TEU as of 31.12.2020



Shipping company


Alliance 2020



















COSCO Group (incl. OOCL)


OCEAN Alliance







OCEAN Alliance







THE Alliance





ONE (MOL, NYK, K Line)


THE Alliance







OCEAN Alliance







THE Alliance





Yang Ming


THE Alliance







2M — Slot Sharing



Source: Alphaliner Monthly Monitor, January 2021

In the reporting year, HHLA’s customer base included all of the world’s top ten container shipping companies. HHLA therefore considers itself well placed to also meet the future requirements of its clients in the shipping sector. Business forecast

Capacity breakdown by shipping line alliance

on Far East–Europe services as of 31.12.2020

Capacity breakdown by shipping line alliances (pie chart)

Source: Alphaliner Monthly Monitor, January 2021

The major shipping line alliances formed in 2017 – 2M, OCEAN Alliance and THE Alliance – remain in place. The OCEAN Alliance contract runs until 2027, whereas the contractual partnership of THE Alliance runs until 2030. In April 2020, HMM officially became the fourth full member of THE Alliance. In the reporting year, several shipping companies ordered new large vessels with capacities of between 23,000 and 24,000 which are expected to be delivered in 2023 and 2024. Whereas the COSCO Group (OOCL) ordered a total of twelve newbuilds, Hapag-Lloyd, ONE and MSC each ordered six newbuilds.

Sales activities in the Container segment are organised by means of key account management. In the Intermodal and Logistics segments, sales are generally managed locally by the individual companies. As far as possible, all activities follow the strategic approach of vertical integration, i.e. offering comprehensive transport and logistics services from a single source. The Real Estate segment’s sales team offers potential clients and tenants a wide range of services for properties in its two main districts – Hamburg’s Speicherstadt historical warehouse district and the northern banks of the river Elbe/fish market area – as well as for logistics properties in and around the port.

Revenue distribution by customer

of the container terminals at the main hub of Hamburg in 2020

Revenue distribution by customer (pie chart)

The share of revenue attributable to HHLA’s five most important customers of its Hamburg container terminals fell in the 2020 financial year to 75 % in total (previous year: 80 %). However, the share of revenue attributable to the ten most important customers of the Hamburg terminals rose slightly to 98 % (previous year: 96 %). HHLA has maintained commercial relationships with the majority of its most important customers for well over two decades.

HHLA concludes framework contracts with its shipping customers that set out both the scope and remuneration of services. As the usage volume for these services is not fixed, there is no order backlog in the traditional sense for the specific services provided by HHLA.

Intermodal/Intermodal systems

Transportation via several modes of transport (water, rail, road) combining the specific advantages of the respective carriers.


Revenue from sales or lettings and from services rendered, less sales deductions and VAT.


In maritime logistics, a terminal is a facility where freight transported by various modes of transport is handled.

TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit)

A TEU is a 20-foot standard container, used as a unit for measuring container volumes. A 20-foot standard container is 6.06 metres long, 2.44 metres wide and 2.59 metres high.