Maersk Will Reshuffle Vessels and Services as Part of Panama Canal Strategy
The inauguration of the expanded Panama Canal will prompt an increase in vessels and services by the world’s largest container carrier, Maersk Line.
The announcement from Maersk came as the expanded Panama Canal was officially inaugurated on June 26.
“As a long-time customer, Maersk Line welcomes the expansion of the Panama Canal,” said Søren Toft, chief operating officer at Maersk Line. “We look forward to seeing our larger vessels pass through the new locks. It is a very positive development for trade, Panama and the region, and of course shipping lines that transit this important corridor every day.”
Maersk Line has been expanding its services in the region. Over the last 15 months, the carrier has introduced four new weekly transits through the Panama Canal and is expecting more than 400 transits this year with canal fees expected to exceed $100 million.
“The expansion provides us more options to a number of our services, most notably our Asia-to-South America and Asia-to-U.S. East Coast routes,” noted Anders Boenaes, head of network at Maersk Line.
From the West Coast of Latin America to Europe and the U.S. East Coast, Maersk Line moves mainly perishables such as bananas, avocados and pineapples and sees many opportunities to grow this fresh export sector. Maersk Line invested in 30,000 new reefer containers in 2015, sustaining a reefer container fleet of 262,000. From Asia to the U.S. East Coast, the strong U.S. dollar also offers potential to grow other exports, particularly car parts and electronics.
“It is likely that Maersk Line will make increased use of the expanded Panama Canal and adjust one or more Maersk Line services with larger vessels to begin sailing through its new locks,” said Toft.
As the gateway for more than 12,000 ships, the Panama Canal currently carries five per cent of all world sea trade, a figure that is likely to grow as the expanded canal comes into use.
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