The member carriers of the SAECS consortium, Maersk Line, Safmarine, Deutsche Afrika Linien and MOL, today announced a rationalisation of their joint Europe to South Africa services.
In early October, the carrier group will close its dedicated Med (Algeciras and Tanger) to South Africa service ‘SME’ aka ‘Med Shuttle’, which is operated with a fleet of seven 1,400 teu to 1,700 teu vessels on a 49-day roundtrip.
At the same time, north and southbound calls at Algeciras will be added to the SAECS consortium’s Northern Europe to South Africa service ‘SRX’ aka ‘SAECS Core’. These will come at the expense of the southbound Las Palmas call which will be dropped. With this new trading pattern, the service will be able to take over the cargo volumes of the ‘Med Shuttle’.
While the 4,500 to 5,000 teu ships of the ‘SAECS Core’ will be able to absorb the extra volumes of the stopped ‘Med Shuttle’ during the Christmas low season, the consortium members have announced that the services fleet will be upgraded with 6,700 teu vessels over the first quarter of 2014. Provided the loop’s operational ‘status quo’ is to be maintained, the announced upgrade will require some vessel chartering or intra-consortium ship swaps, as DAL does not have any ships larger than the loop’s current 4,500 teu units.
Before the addition of the Algeciras calls, the ‘SAECS Core’ service will undergo another minor change. As of November, the loop will shift its UK call from Tilbury to the nearby London Gateway, where it will launch commercial operations at DP World’s new terminal on the lower Thames River,
Presently, the two SAECS services look as follows:
> North Europe – South Africa, ‘SAECS Core’: Rotterdam, Tilbury, Bremerhaven, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Rotterdam.
The service turns in 56 days with eight ships of 4,500 to 5,000 teu operated by Maersk Line, Safmarine, DAL and MOL, which all provide two ships each. According to the carriers, the additon of the Algeciras calls will not change the eight-week turnaround of the loop.
> Med – South Africa ‘SAECS Med Shuttle’: Algeciras, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Algeciras
The service turns in 49 days with seven ships of 1,400 to 1,700 teu operated by Maersk Line. DAL, Safmarine and MOL take slots.