SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 27 February 2024, Tuesday |

Maersk schedules dozens of vessels to travel via Suez Canal

Denmark’s Maersk (MAERSKb.CO) said on Wednesday that it had planned several dozen container ships to transit via the Suez Canal and the Red Sea in the coming days and weeks, indicating that global shipping firms are returning to the route.

After Yemen’s Houthi militant group began striking vessels earlier this month, the world’s top shipping corporations, including container titans Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd (HLAG.DE), stopped utilizing Red Sea routes, hurting global trade.

Maersk’s share price fell 5% by 1330 GMT on Wednesday, partly reversing last week’s gains, as a return to the shorter routes through the Suez Canal from voyages around Africa might prompt a freight rates correction.

Other shipping stocks also fell, including Hapag-Lloyd which dropped 6%, oil tanker group Frontline (FRO.OL) which was down 5.3% and car shipping service Hoegh Autoliners (HAUTO.OL) which was 3% lower.

Maersk said on Dec. 24 it was preparing a return to the Red Sea for both eastbound and westbound journeys, citing the deployment of a U.S.-led military operation to protect vessels against Houthi attacks, but provided few details.

The schedule remains subject to change based on specific contingency plans that may be formed over the coming days, the company said on Wednesday.

France’s CMA CGM on Tuesday said it was increasing the number of vessels travelling through the Suez Canal.

Among the vessels listed in a Maersk advisory to clients on Wednesday was the Maren Maersk, which departed Tangiers on Dec. 24 and would “continue via Suez Canal” with an estimated time of arrival in Singapore on Jan. 14.

But many of its vessels are still scheduled to take the journey around Africa, the advisory showed.

Maersk has since Dec. 19 rerouted ships around Africa via the Cape of Good Hope to avoid attacks, charging customers extra fees and adding weeks to the time it takes to transport goods from Asia to Europe and to the east coast of North America.

It announced on Dec. 22 that it would add charges of $700 for a standard 20-foot container travelling from China to Northern Europe, consisting of a $200 transit disruption surcharge and a $500 peak season surcharge.

The transit disruption charge was imposed last week with immediate effect while the peak season addition is valid from Jan. 1. It was not immediately clear how the decision to restart some Red Sea shipments would affect the surcharges.

The company declined to comment further when asked about its vessel schedules.

“At the moment, we cannot say anything more than what has been shared,” a Maersk spokesperson said in a statement.

German rival Hapag-Lloyd still considers the situation too dangerous to pass through the Suez Canal, a spokesperson for the company said on Wednesday, adding that it would continue to reroute its vessels via the Cape of Good Hope.

“We continuously assess the situation and plan a next review on Friday,” the spokesperson said.

    Source:
  • Reuters