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Twenty years of container cabotage in Brazil: Aliança strengthens itself as a leader in the transport modality


On April 26, 1956, an invention by transportation entrepreneur Malcom McLean revolutionised the logistics industry when 58 metal boxes left Newark for Houston, United States. Thus, 66 years ago, the shipping container was invented, bringing a complete revolution to world trade.

In Brazil, Aliança (an A.P. Moller - Maersk company) combined, 20 years ago, the use of containers with coastal navigation between the country's ports, becoming the leader and pioneer in container cabotage, handling about 350 thousand TEU (20 feet container) per year.

Brazil has nearly 8,000 km of coastline, more than 40,000 km of potentially navigable waterways; There are 34 ports in the country, being 8 in the south, 5 in the north, 10 in the southeast, and 11 in the northeast, making cabotage an essential and strategic part of Brazilian integrated logistics.

Despite being recommended for short distances, trucks drive long distances at a high cost, overtaxing both the productive sector and the consumer. With the possibility of cabotage navigation, road transport works in a complementary way, taking the goods from their origin to the port and from the port to their final destination, acting on the first and last miles, which is called multimodal end-to-end logistics. It is important to note that cabotage is integrated with other modes such as road and rail, and Aliança offers a full range of products in its end-to-end logistics network.


Benefits of cabotage

It is estimated that cabotage offers a freight cost up to 20% lower compared to the cost of rail transport. In addition, cabotage transportation consumes eight times less fuel to transport the same amount of cargo as other means. Other benefits of cabotage are:

  • Reduction of freight and insurance costs;
  • Cargo security;
  • Low incidence of accidents;
  • Lower risk of product damage and claims;
  • Low environmental impact;
  • ? Predictability as the ships pass on the same day every week;
  • Fewer trucks on the roads;
  • High load capacity;
  • About 60% of the Brazilian population lives within 200 km of the coastline.

Between 2013 and 2014, Aliança acquired six new ships, with a capacity between 3,800 TEU and 4,800 TEU each, expanding its fleet in Brazil to a total of eight vessels. All of Aliança's ships are state-of-the-art, have an average age of 10 years and are certified for safety: of the crew, cargo, and environment.

Aliança divides its cargo into five categories: food and beverage, agriculture, refrigerated, retail and industry; and three types of containers:

  • Dry containers (the so-called standard containers are intended for the transport of dry cargo): these are robust boxes of 20 feet and 40 feet, which meet all the requirements and standards on size and quality for sea and land transport to ensure that the cargo arrives at the final destination in ideal condition;
  • Refrigerated containers: ideal for transporting perishable food, pharmaceutical products, or goods that require refrigeration, they are the solution for various temperature-sensitive supply chains;
  • Special containers: for transporting large volumes of goods, large or high density loads, such as copper plates, heavy industrial machinery or even a helicopter, when using open-top or flat shelves.

At the end of 2021, Aliança announced the construction of two 700 TEU barges and two pusher tugs on national territory. The building has the participation of the Canadian company Robert Allan, which will work on the development of the project. The vessels will be built by the Rio Maguari shipyard, located in Belém (PA), with delivery expected to take up to three years. The total investment in the construction will be US$ 60 million. Aliança announced that 30 crew vacancies would be created, and about 300 workers would participate in constructing the vessels.


Logistics Integrator

Aliança is a company that leads the coastal shipping market and offers integrated logistics services, including road transportation with its own fleet of trucks and partners throughout Brazil. In addition, the company is the largest partner of railways in container transportation and is constantly expanding, adding new warehouses and services such as the transportation of LCL (less than container load) cargo and lead logistics. With these options, Aliança offers complete logistics that covers the entire supply chain, end to end.



The term cabotage is derived from the surname of Sebastião Caboto, a 16th-century Italian seafarer who explored the Rio de la Plata in South America. During the development of Brazil, cabotage was widely used to connect regions, especially the ports of Rio Grande, Santos, Rio de Janeiro, and Salvador. Cabotage has played an essential role in forming the Brazilian territory, transporting people, goods, and information between the main ports since the colonial period.

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