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Maersk & CMA CGM join Indian transshipment connectivity race

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Shri Vaibhavi Logistics

MUMBAI : Transshipment connectivity realignments are becoming a newfound priority for container lines active on Indian trades, ostensibly given the challenges plaguing connections at the port of Colombo in Sri Lanka.

Maersk has expanded the port rotation of its intra-subcontinent loop “Jade Express” with a direct call at APM Terminals Pipavav, a growing alternative private gateway on India’s west coast that essentially competes with Mundra Port.

The new call has been designed to connect Maersk’s flagship MECL [North America and Middle East–India Subcontinent] and FI3 [Far East-India Subcontinent] services already calling at Pipavav.

The regional string now rotates Karachi, Mundra, Pipavav, and Colombo, deploying three mid-size vessels of about 3,400 TEU capacity. A call from the vessel Irenes Ray on April 17 debuted the Pipavav call.

“Our constant endeavor to create customer-centric solutions has led us to connect Jade Express to APM Terminals Pipavav on its rotation between the Far East Asia, Indian subcontinent, and Pakistan,” Vikash Agarwal, Maersk’s Managing Director for South Asia, said in a statement. “With the Jade Express, we expect to extend those service levels further to our customers in the northern and western parts of India.”

On the strength of expansive rail connectivity and shorter inland transits vis-à-vis Nhava Sheva Port (JNPT), Pipavav has positioned itself as a preferred gateway for the exporter-importer community in the vast northern hinterland region. “The new service is a testimony to the port infrastructure and services,” APMT Pipavav noted.

APMT Pipavav handled about 630,000 TEU in fiscal year 2021-22 that ended March 31, data shows. The terminal’s annual capacity is 1.35 million TEU.

New CMA CGM shuttle service

From the end of May, CMA CGM will also bring in an Asia-Subcontinent shuttle service to connect transshipment cargo out of Chennai, a major Indian east coast gateway.

The India East Coast Express 2 (IEX 2) — rotating Singapore, Chennai, Colombo, and back to Singapore — is due to begin with the first vessel, Songa Tiger, departing from Singapore on May 30.

Much of Indian east coast cargo is transshipped over Colombo or other South Asia hub ports, but ongoing Colombo disruptions have created new challenges for Indian trade.

Mediterranean Shipping Co. has been actively using Mundra as a regional hub for its Indian network, powered by a terminal venture it has in the Adani Group-owned private harbor. According to the data, transshipment volumes accounted for 1.7 million TEU out of a total 5.4 million TEU handled by Adani Mundra Terminals in fiscal 2021-22.

Some of the niche feeder lines, including Samudera Shipping Line, have also opened shuttle services from India’s west coast (JNPT/Mundra) to Singapore in recent months, with an eye on transshipment volumes as available mainline capacity tightens.

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