Reference is made to the story titled ‘Slowdown at Freeport as major client changes hub’ (May 14). I would like to clarify the information reported.
Maersk Line have changed the way they service the Malta market from the Far East. Malta destined and originating cargo is presently serviced via a transshipment port, namely Port Said Egypt versus a direct Far East to Malta call. The effect of this is that it adds a few days to the transit time of the service Far East to Malta. The feeder services that used to feed other Mediterranean ports from the Far East service via Malta automatically move with the service.
There will be three departures per week linking Malta to the Far East via Port Said. Otherwise all other services have stayed and there is no intention for any of them to change in the foreseeable future.
The domestic trade has therefore not been impacted. Maersk Line still operates direct services from North Europe and South America besides being still connected worldwide via other transshipment ports, as it has always been now for many years.
These decisions happen from time to time in shipping and are basically a shift in operations, usually an aim of achieving better synergies depending on cargo mix of port of loading and port of discharge, freight rates, transit times and fuel economies.
There is usually no one single reason that leads to this and in our long history and experience in container shipping we have witnessed many such changes. As likely as services are shifted away, they are also shifted back over business cycles.
Shipping is a dynamic business involving many international variables, and nobody in the business is surprised by changes in shipping patterns.
Maersk Line’s contribution to Malta has been, and still is, that of giving worldwide container shipping connections to Maltese exporters and importers, as well as bringing transshipment opportunities to Malta where Maersk has been and still is a significant player at Malta Freeport Terminal.
The actual ship calls also generate income to Malta in general via the services a ship requires for such calls.