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YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, Russia: July 25, 2016. GAC has opened branches at Nakhodka and the Sakhalin capital, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. The company says it is the only ship agent to cover the whole interconnected Arctic region with existing offices at Murmansk, Kandalaksha and Sabetta.

GAC Russia's general manager Arkady Podkopaev said the time was now right to expand eastwards to provide ship agency and husbandry services in the Russian Far East - which has a coastline of over 5,000 miles and covers 22 maritime ports.

The region includes an FTZ set up last year covering Vladivostok, Nakhodka, Korsakov for imports from China, Japan and Korea that are transferred to ships or the Trans-Siberian Railway for Central Asian, Middle East and European markets.

Podkopaev added: "The region offers a wealth of business opportunities for our integrated services, and those opportunities are set to become even more plentiful as a result of the Free Port Zone."

Sakhalin Island is home to Russia's first LNG exports to Asian countries while most of the crude oil exports come from the Kozmino terminal near Nakhodka.

In a relaed move, GAC Brazil has opened a new office at São João da Barra RJ, in the north of Rio de Janeiro State. The facility serves customers using the Açu port complex, some 315 kilometers north of Rio, that has ten berths and is deep enough to accommodate some of the world's largest container vessels.

Iberia CargaMADRID: July 29, 2016. International Airlines Group, owners of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling, has reported a 67 percent rise in 2016 first half (H1) profit of €554 million on revenue of €10.8 billion – a 4.1 percent increase over the same period last year.

Net profit for the second quarter ending June 30 (Q2) was €396 million - an increase of 10.6 percent over the same period in 2015 - as cargo revenue fell 12 percent to €241 million.

IAG CEO Willie Walsh said a weak Sterling had cost the group €148 million in exchange losses while "numerous external factors affected our airlines including the impact of terrorism, uncertainty around the UK's EU referendum and Spain's political situation and increased weakness in Latin American economies".

IAG Cargo CEO Drew Crawley added that volumes were flat and yields decreased 13.4 percent in Q2 due to increased competition and excessive freighter capacity: "Flat demand for consolidated general cargo and excessive freighter capacity in the industry is causing supply to continually outstrip demand," he said.

"These challenges are not solely restricted to airfreight, with increasing competition and capacity coming from road, rail and sea freight, exerting significant price pressures."

Crawly said IAG Cargo would continue to concentrate on the growth of its premium products, leverage its network - now augmented by Aer Lingus - and focus on its "smart partnerships" with Finnair and Qatar Airways.

GENEVA/MARSEILLES: July 25, 2016. MSC has joined CMA CGM as an investor in French sea container tracking company Traxens.

Commenting on the decision, MSC president and CEO Diego Aponte said that while shipping lines should compete on service there's no reason why they shouldn't co-operate in the area of technology and innovation.

CMA CGM vice chairman Rodolphe Saadé added: "We recognized the need for more and better data coming from our containers quite a while ago. We are proud to have identified the potential of the Traxens solution early on."

The French company has also announced a 'Bengal Bay Express' service linking Thailand with the U.S. East Coast via India and the Middle East. The container service will operate weekly with 11 vessels of 6,500 TEU from Laem Chabang and make a roundtrip call at Singapore, Colombo, Damietta, Cagliari, Halifax, New York, Savannah and Norfolk.

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