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MARSEILLE: The CMA-CGM Group has reported first-half 2015 revenue of US$8.1 billion, a TEU volume increase of 8.2 percent to 6.4 million and an "almost tripled" net profit of US$562 million compared to 2014.

Second quarter volumes rose 6.2 percent year-on-year to 3.3 million TEUs, but average revenue per container carried fell by 7.8 percent. The company said unit costs fell 10.9 percent due to the fall in oil prices and led to a 59.3 percent rise in EBIT of US$325 million compared to the same period last year.

Consolidated net profit was US$156 million, up 66.7 percent over 2014 Q2 and TEU capacity increased 12.2 percent to 1.8 million.

CMA CGM reported "vigorous growth" in its services to and from the U.S., citing reefer traffic and the weakness in the euro, which boosted European exports.

Since July 01, CMA CGM has taken delivery of two 2,100-TEU vessels deployed on lines to Guyana, along with a 9,300-TEU and 18,000-TEU vessel. In the next few weeks, it will take delivery of one 2,100-TEU vessel, one 9,300-TEU vessel, and two 18,000-TEU vessels, including CMA CGM Bougainville, set to become the largest container ship sailing under the French flag.

In a related move a consortium of CMA CGM, Bolloré and the China Harbour Engineering Company has won a 25-year concession to construct and operate the new Kribi Container Terminal in Cameroon.

When finished, the facility will be able to handle 8,000-TEU vessels and have a capacity of 1.4 million TEU. CMA CGM said an initial 350-meter wharf would be operational before the end of the year.

Farid Salem, CMA CGM group executive officer commented: "We would like to thank the government of Cameroon for the transparent selection of our offer, which provided the best financial and technical guarantees. With this new terminal, Cameroon will be at the heart of international trade,"

DUBAI: DP World has reported a 22.3 percent increase in profit of US$455 million for the first half of 2015 and a 14.5 percent rise in revenue of US$1.9 billion compared to the same period last year.

The company said revenue had been boosted by its US$3 billion investment in Fairview Terminals (Canada) and Dubai-based Economic Zones World (EZW), a global developer and operator of economic zones, technology, logistics and industrial parks.

DB World Nhava ShevaEZW's current portfolio includes Jafza, one of the world's largest free zones; TechnoPark, a researchdriven business and industrial park and Dubai Auto Zone. EZW has ongoing projects across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Americas.

DP World reported a 3.5 percent rise in container throughput in H1 to reach 14.38 million TEUs compared to the same period in 2014. The company said it will reach a global handling capacity of 85 million TEUs by the end of the year after adding space for two million more TEUs at Jebel Ali and 0.8 million at Yarimca, Turkey.

Group CEO Mohammed Sharaf said the company spent US$597 million adding over three million TEU of new capacity in the first half of 2015 with projects in Rotterdam, Nhava Sheva (right) now operational. Capex for 2015 remains unchanged at $1.6-1.9 billion, which includes $200 million for EZW.

Net debt increased from US$2.3 billion to US$5.8 billion in H1 compared to the same period last year and free cash fell to US$2.5 billion, in part due to funding the EZW acquisition.

Sharaf said the macroeconomic environment remains challenging with geopolitical uncertainty causing currency fluctuations in Europe, as growth rates in China have slowed. "Despite these hurdles DP World has continued to deliver a resilient financial performance reinforcing our view that operating a diversified portfolio with a focus on faster growing markets, and origin and destination cargo, will deliver superior earnings growth."

HAMBURG: Hapag-Lloyd has reported a €1.5 billion increase in revenue to €4.7 billion for the first half of 2015 compared to the same period last year. The company cited initial synergies from the CSAV merger.

CSAVEBITDA rose from €$67.2 million to €493.3 million for an operating result of €267.7 million compared to a loss of €101.5 million in 2014. The net profit for H1 was €157.2 million compared to a loss of €173.3 million in the previous period.

Volume of TEUs carried rose 29.4 percent in H1 to 3.7 million year-on-year. The average freight rate per TEU was US$1,296 - nine percent below the same period in 2014.

The transfer of CSAV's services and ship systems into the various trades of Hapag-Lloyd was completed in the second quarter of 2015, slightly ahead of the original plan. As a result, with integration almost complete, Hapag-Lloyd said it expects net annual gains of US$400 million by 2017 – US$100 million higher than originally forecast.

"After a solid start into 2015, we are satisfied with our results in the first half of 2015", said Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd. "Our results prove that the merger with CSAV was the right decision."

HAMILTON, Bermuda:  Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (BIP), owner of 30 ports, toll roads and rail operations in Asia, Europe, the Americas and Australia, is to acquire a 55 percent shareholding in Australian port and rail operator Asciano for US$2.8 billion.

Together with BIP-managed funds and those of other institutional and individual investors totaling a further 45 percent, the collective 'Brookfield Consortium' is purchasing 100 percent of Asciano for US$6.6 billion.

Brookfield Asciano"This transaction enables us to acquire premier transport infrastructure assets in a geography we know well and establish two leading global platforms, with solid long-term prospects," said Sam Pollock, CEO of BIP. "Combining Asciano's Australian container terminals with our existing assets in North America and Europe provides the foundation for a global container platform.

"In addition, Asciano's leading above-rail operations, together with our Australian and Brazilian logistics businesses, create a powerful, international rail logistics business."

Asciano's business includes container terminal operations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth that have a capacity of approximately 4.9 million TEUs; port, terminal and supply chain services; and nationwide Australia rail operations with the capacity to move 180 million tonnes of freight across mineral and bulk haulage, steel and intermodal sectors.

BIP said Asciano's Australian container terminals will complement its existing footprint in California and the UK; more than double existing capacity in the Asia Pacific region; and will enable BIP to offer new clients single supplier access to key global markets.

Asciano plans to hold a shareholdings' meeting in November to approve the deal that requires 75 percent voter confirmation as well a green light from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission; the (Australian) Foreign Investment Review Board and the New Zealand Overseas Investment Office.

FOLKSTONE, UK: Eurotunnel, operator of the Channel Tunnel, wants €9.7 million compensation from the British or French governments due to the blockading of Calais by former employees of MyFerryLink and by migrant workers using trucks or the rail service in attempts to reach the UK.

Port delays on both sides of the Channel are costing the UK logistics industry £750,000 a day according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

FTA deputy chief executive James Hookham said: "It is simply not acceptable that industrial action in France can cause such chaos which is impacting on the British economy. Calais has to be made a strike free-zone so that cross-Channel traffic can start moving again."

The on-going chaos follows a ruling earlier this year by Britain's Competition and Market Authority (CMA) that MyFerryLink owner Eurotunnel should not be allowed to run a Dover-Calais ferry service and operate the Channel Tunnel.

calais 1By the time the ruling was overturned on appeal, Eurotunnel had agreed to hand over two ships to ferry operator DFDS who then offered to employ over 200 former MyFerryLink employees. They rejected the plan.

Eurotunnel became involved in running the ferry service in 2012 following the collapse of French operator SeaFrance. The company acquired its three ships and the former SeaFrance employees set up a workers' cooperative called SCOP SeaFrance.

According to Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, many of the staff invested their redundancy money in the new operation and formed a union headed by one of their number – a local Calais man named Eric Vercoutre.

The 600-strong union, made up of SCOP members, turned militant under Vercoutre's leadership following Eurotunnel's decision to sell the ships to DFDS. They now occupy the vessels in Calais and have been responsible for setting fires at the entrance of the Channel Tunnel.

On July 22, DFDS released a statement saying: "Following a meeting at the Ministry of Transport in Paris on July 20, with the participation of SCOP SeaFrance, Groupe Eurotunnel and DFDS Seaways, it has been announced that the blockade in Calais will be lifted and the port of Calais will re-open fully from 12 noon CET on Tuesday 21 July."

Two days later "migrant activity" on one of Eurotunnel's truck trains caused more delays at both ends of the route and DFDS, along with rival P&O Ferries, announced their operations were similarly affected.

With hundreds of trucks again parked on the highway leading to Britain's port of Dover because of the delays, the UK Rail Freight Group (RFG) said the impact on cross-channel rail freight services by migrants had reached "critical levels". It urged the UK and French governments "to implement solutions and rigorous security across the Calais area to prevent migrants accessing the rail infrastructure and to allow unimpeded cross-channel transits to recommence".

"UK business is now being directly impacted by these events. Without immediate support and progress, serious and long-lasting damage will be caused both to the customers and operators of international rail freight," it added.

The French government reportedly has responded by announcing plans to provide 150 jobs via a Eurotunnel ferry contract for the militant union members - in addition to the job offers from DFDS. Vercoutre said his "legal experts" would take a look at the French deal.

Commenting on the blockade, earlier this month the port of Dover's CEO Tim Waggott said the value of trade handled by the cross-Channel port is £100 billion a year: "That is just less than the combined online retail sales of the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, The Netherlands, Italy, Poland and Spain. In just four days of concerted disruption in Calais, such action has already cost the UK economy an estimated one billion pounds."

PANAMA CITY: The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) says the El Niño climate phenomenon has led to a drought in the Canal Watershed, causing the water levels of Gatun and Alhajuela Lakes to fall substantially.

As a result, the ACP has set a maximum draft for all shipping using the Canal of 11.89 meters (39.0 feet) effective September 8, 2015.

panama canal lockThe advisory is likely to hit only 18.5 percent of vessels transiting the Canal. The ACP adds that based on current information, the draft may be further reduced to 11.73 meters (38.5 feet) starting September 16, 2015. The last time this happened was in 1997-1998.

The ACP has also announced that its main contractor for the Canal's third set of locks, Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), and the Trade Union of Construction Workers and Similar (SUNTRACS), have avoided a strike.

SUNTRACS workers wanted an 8.9 percent salary increase from July following an 11 percent increase in May 2014. GUPC said last year's increase was meant to cover the remainder of the construction project – currently 93 percent complete – and appealed to the ACP to help in the negotiations.

The ACP responded saying: "Although the ultimate owner of the project, [it] is in no way responsible for labor issues arising from any failure on the part of GUPC to meet labor demands by its subcontractors."

Declaring the ACP's "intransigent and negative" attitude made it impossible to reach deal, GUPC announced it would make "an additional financial sacrifice" and agreed to pay a further US$4.81 an hour for qualified workers and five percent for "other categories".

toucumen airport panamaOn July 10, GUPC announced it had reached an agreement "on good terms" with SUNTRACS members with no help from the ACP "despite being the owner of the project and with a wide knowledge of the financial commitments that GUPC has had to assume."

Meanwhile, Emirates Airline has announced it is to begin the world's longest non-stop scheduled service to Tocumen International Airport, Panama City (left) in February next year.

The 17.5-hour daily flight with a B777-200LR will be able to carry up to 15 tonnes of freight and is EK's first service to Central America.

"It is gratifying to see how diplomatic efforts focused on generating development and prosperity for Panama materialize," said Isabel Saint Malo de Alvarado, Panama's vice president. "New doors to the country will open with a direct connection to the Middle East - a strong and thriving region with great synergies to both Panama and Latin America."

Later this year, Emirates will be adding four additional routes to its global network including Mashhad, Iran and Orlando in September; Bamako, Mali in October; and Bologna in November.

LONDON/CALAIS: Britain has announced plans to establish a secure truck park at the northern French port of Calais with a capacity for 230 vehicles – the equivalent of a 2.5-mile line.

Government home secretary Theresa May said £12 million would be spent on reinforcing security at several northern French ports following 8,000 failed attempts by migrants to cross the Channel in a three-week period between June and July.

Welcoming the announcement, the UK Freight Transport Association (FTA) said its members had encountered intimidation, threats of violence, damage to vehicles and spoiled cargoes while waiting at the port to cross the Channel.

MyFerryLink1FTA deputy chief executive James Hookham said the new zone "will protect drivers from the gangs of migrants threatening UK drivers. This will allow them to queue and get out of their cabs without fear of intimidation".

"At long last something is being done in order to protect drivers, but we still need the French to step up their policing of the area and address the issue of the migrants camped out in Calais," he added.

Noting that dozens of stowaways had been removed from trucks after a strike by former MyFerryLink workers had closed the port last week, Hookham declared: "Calais is a vital trade gateway, with £89 billion passing through the port every year. We cannot allow the migrants to put this in jeopardy – already millions of pounds have been lost in delays, damage to vehicles and spoiled cargoes."

British International Freight Association (BIFA) director general Robert Keen added: "Only a month ago, we called for some additional action from the authorities in France and the UK to step up their protection of the routes across the Channel and fulfill their obligations to let trade move unhindered before serious damage is done to this strategic freight route.

"If the new secure zone helps to protect hauliers, it is great news for our members that are engaged in cross channel trade."

COPENHAGEN: The Maersk Group has reported a net profit of US$1.1 billion for the second quarter of 2015 on revenue of US$10.5 billion. The company cited cheaper oil prices and lower container rates for the 12 percent drop in revenue compared to the same period last year.

For the first six months of 2015, the group realized a net profit of US$2.7 billion on revenue of US$21.07 billion.

Maersk Star Air The company said the fluctuating oil price has changed its outlook for Maersk Oil, APM Terminals, Maersk Drilling and APM Shipping Services. As a result, "previously announced profit and growth targets will be replaced by plans adapting to the current environment" for these business units.

Maersk Line increased its H1 profit from US$1.0 billion to US$1.2 billion despite a fall in overall revenue from US$13.3 billion to US$12.5 billion during the comparable period.

An increase in volume of 1.1 percent to 4.69 million FFEs was offset by a 9.9 percent fall in the average freight rate to US$2,370 per FFE for the first six months.

Damco, part of APM Shipping Services, produced a second quarter net profit of US$7 million – a turnaround from the US$32 million loss in 2014 – and finished H1 with a net loss of US$2 million compared to a loss of US$42 million in the same period last year. Revenue fell from US$1.5 billion to US$1.3 billion for the first six months of 2015 largely due to exchange rate movements.

The 3PL said its supply chain management business rose 8.0 percent in Q2 while ocean and airfreight volumes fell 7.0 and 4.0 percent respectively.

Commenting on the group results CEO Nils Andersen said Maersk expected a net profit of "around" US$4.0 billion for 2015 and with a strong balance sheet, would launch a US$1 billion share buy-back programme this year.

GDANSK: Drewry Maritime Research says the addition of DCT Gdansk, Poland to the G6 Alliance's Asia-Europe Loop 7 service from August 10 suggests the country will attract more deep-sea services as its economy continues to grow faster than other EU nations.

Coupled with the construction of a second deep-water birth at a cost of €200 million and due for completion late next year, Drewry says the DCT Gdansk container facility could rival German and Benelux ports as a transshipment hub for Central Europe and beyond.

DCT Gdansk MaerskCommenting at the groundbreaking ceremony last month, Poland's deputy prime minister Janusz Piechocinski said: "Gdansk could have never become such an important commercial center if it did not have fine infrastructure linking it with Polish hinterland and countries neighboring Poland. Polish road and rail infrastructure has improved dramatically during last 10 years and thanks to investments such as the second deep-water berth in Gdansk, we continue improving the quality of Polish transport corridors."

When complete, the two Gdansk terminals will have an annual capacity of over three million TEUs.

Opened in 2007 primarily for feeder services, port traffic at DCT Gdansk expanded in 2010 when Maersk Line added the terminal to its Asia-Europe AE10 loop with ships of 8,000 TEU (right). The following year the company introduced 15,500 TEU capacity which it replaced in 2013 with 18,000 TEU 'Triple E' vessels.

In a related move, Maersk Line has now placed a US$1.1 billion order for nine 14,000 TEU capacity vessels from Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) for delivery in 2017. The agreement includes an option for up eight more ships.

For the first time, the company is ordering vessels with a flexible design that can be deployed on East-West trades, such as via Gdansk, or North-South destinations where requirements may differ but will have no negative impact on fuel consumption.

"I am very pleased about this order for which we have taken a new approach. The vessels will be designed to operate in and perform efficiently across many trades and not just designed for one specific trade. They will help us stay competitive and make our fleet more flexible and efficient," said Søren Toft, COO of Maersk Line.

SINGAPORE: NOL Group, majority owned by Singapore's sovereign wealth fund Temasek, reported a net profit of US$879 million on revenue of US$3.5 billion for the first six months of 2015.

Excluding the US$887 million net gain on the sale of its APL supply chain management business to Kintetsu World Express, the company posted an overall net loss of US$8 million for H1 compared to a loss of US$152 million year-on-year.

NOL said it experienced "severe freight rate erosion" with rates in major trade lanes falling to some of the lowest levels it has seen in recent years. Average freight rates fell 17 percent in the second quarter because of over-capacity, it added. As a result, revenue for Q2 fell 24 percent to US$1.5 billion; EBIT was US$29 million and net profit excluding the Kintetsu sale, US$3.0 million.

NOL "The Group's container shipping business continued to face a challenging environment characterized by over-capacity and weak market demand. Nonetheless, APL reversed a core EBIT loss in the second quarter last year to a positive position this year," said NOL Group president and CEO Ng Yat Chung. "We remain focused on improving our cost competitiveness, yield optimization and service reliability to return the liner business to sustained profitability."

NOL reported US$100 million in cost savings in 2Q 2015, bringing its total cost savings for the first half of the year to US$255 million. "There is room for further cost savings with another nine vessels scheduled for expiry in the second half of this year," added Ng.

Commenting on speculation that the shipping group is up for sale, Drewry Maritime Research said: "There are several obstacles to a full sale of NOL: its parent company is not under pressure to sell and is unlikely to accept a low price, there are few willing buyers, and its fleet is not an attraction. More likely, Temasek will remain as a substantial shareholder after either a direct stake sale or indirect stake sale through [its investor subsidiary] Lentor.

"There is one good reason for Temasek to stick with NOL," Drewry added. "As full owner of container terminal operator PSA International it could use NOL, and its G6 Alliance partners, to utilize Singapore's new 65 million TEU per annum capacity mega-port at Tuas. The first-phase (25 million TEU capacity) is scheduled to be ready in six years."

DOVER: P&O Ferries announced on July 03 it had resumed services from Dover to Calais following a strike by MyFerryLink workers. During the severe disruption that caused  the M20 motorway in SE England to be used as a truck park, competitor DFDS Seaways continued to run uninterrupted services to Dunkerque as an alternate route to France.

MyFerryLink (MFL) is a workers' cooperative formed after employer Seafrance was forced into liquidation. It is protesting plans to sell the ferries it operates to DFDS. DFDS said on July 01 that its offer to acquire some assets of Seafrance and employ 202 former staff has been rejected by Seafrance administrators.

dfdsmyferrylinkDFDS has now agreed to acquire two of the three vessels operated by MFL from the lessor Eurotunnel after the UK Competition Commission had earlier ruled the cooperative could not operate from Dover.

Commenting on the strike, port of Dover CEO Tim Waggott, said: "The scale and prolonged period of disruption is bad for us all and it is bad for the UK too. The port handles trade to the value of £100 billion every year and every day that this situation in France continues costs the UK at least £250 million. That is simply unacceptable and incredibly damaging."

Carsten Jensen, senior vice president and head of DFDS Seaways in the UK added: "We are deeply concerned that our customers are continuing to face long delays on their cross Channel journeys due to ongoing industrial action in Calais.

"Whilst we appreciate the hard work from the police and port authorities in Dover and France, and we are working closely with them to transport as many [customers] as possible through the alternative port of Dunkerque, some 20 miles east of Calais, the reality is that this situation is simply not acceptable and must not be allowed to continue."

Coincident with the strike, Dunkerque has released figures saying over 24,000 jobs depend on the port, nearly 5,000 of them directly and 18,500 indirectly. In 2013, investment was €47 million and the port produced €3.7 billion of added value to the region.

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