With immediate effect, the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is revising the rotation of its North Europe – Far East ‘Lion’ service, with the removal of the Valencia call and the addition of a second Sines call. The Lion service, operated as part of a North Europe to Far East service partnership with CMA CGM who market the loop as ‘FAL 7’, has thus lost its one and only Mediterranean call.
One of the rationales behind the removal of Valencia might be MSC’s recent strengthening of the Far East to South Africa trade lane, which allows the carrier to increasingly move West Africa-related cargo to the Far East along the ‘southern route’ via transhipment in South Africa, rather than along the ‘northern route’ via transhipment in the Mediterranean. The South Africa routes have been boosted with increasingly large ships on the Europe – South Africa – Far East pendulum ‘Cheetah’ and the launch of the new ECSA – South Africa – Far East loop ‘Ipanema’, which features an eastbound call at Ngqura (aka Coega).
Despite the removal of Valencia from the ‘Lion’, transhipment connections between West Africa and Europe remain insured on this loop both ways via Sines.
The 13,092 teu MSC CRISTINA made the final visit at Valencia on 23 May and the 12,562 teu MSC FABIOLA will inaugurate the new eastbound call at Sines on 21 June. The revised rotation reads:
Rotterdam, Antwerp, Dunkirk, Felixstowe, Sines (new), Suez (way point), Port Kelang, Singapore, Yantian, Chiwan, Xiamen, Ningbo, Shanghai, Xiamen, Yantian, Chiwan, Singapore, Suez (way point), Sines, Le Havre, Rotterdam.
The port of Sines, which now features both ways on the ‘Lion’ has a double function for MSC: It serves both as an import and export gateway to Spain and Portugal, but also as a transhipment port between various trades.
14 liner services call at SINES. MSC in involved in all of them, either directly or indirectly, through its intra-Europe specialised arm and subsidiary WEC Lines. These include the Europe to South Africa and Far East pendulum, a North Europe to ECSA loop, a North Europe to West Africa loop, but also the services linking the Mediterranean to the ECNA, the US Gulf and to the West Coast of North America as well as intra-Europe services. The ‘Lion / FAL 7’ is the only Europe far East service calling at Sines.
MSC, through its Dutch-registered sister company Terminal Investments Limited (TIL), is a shareholder in the Sines container terminal. The lead partner in the joint venture is PSA International of Singapore.