Quick turnaround for ACL 18

North Atlantic ro ro specialist ACL witnessed a drop in demand on its core service when the pandemic first broke out but there was soon a dramatic recovery, says the line’s general manager for ro ro and special projects North America, Robert Willman. He recalls: “We certainly felt

uneasy about the situation but were shocked when business returned and dramatically exceeded our

expectations. Back orders, aſter a period of dormancy, were released and we are continuing to remain at a strong level. We have received cargo shipments of machinery that are typically containerised. The cargo is easily rolled onto ACL’s deck and placed in our under-deck ro ro garages as uncontainerisable cargo. To date,

these are the

strongest markets that we seen in years - and, we do not see an end to

Issue 4 2021 - Freight Business Journal

it any time soon.” ACL’s fleet of five new vessels,

less than five years old, are the fourth generation of vessels evolving from a design that began in 1967. The Generation 4 (G4) ships make up the newest and largest ro ro/containership (con ro) fleet in the world, operating in the transatlantic service. Their container capacity is more than double at 3,800teu with 28,900sq m of ro ro space and car capacity of over 1,300 vehicles. The ro ro ramps are wider and shallower and the decks are higher

at up to 7.4 metres. Fewer columns make for much easier loading and discharge of oversized cargo. Emissions per teu are reduced by 65%. ACL’s core service includes

the Ports of New York, Baltimore, Norfolk, Halifax, Liverpool, Hamburg and Antwerp and continues to expand its service network through its parent company, Grimaldi Group of Naples, Italy. ACL is Grimaldi’s North America agent for services between North America and West

Africa and between North America and the Mediterranean. Finnlines is ACL’s agent in Finland and Russia and feeds North American cargo via Antwerp to and from these areas. Willman adds: “We have plans to explore other

to continue

areas of cooperation with carriers within the Grimaldi Group. Since ACL and Grimaldi now call at the same terminals in Hamburg


and Antwerp, our transhipment possibilities are growing to other new locations. With a network of carriers that are exclusively operating in North America, ACL also offers oversized service to the Middle East, Far East and Oceania. We are constantly evaluating a wider, flexible range of worldwide ports of call to accommodate the special requirements of ACL’s customers.”

Grimaldi to offer Cork- Antwerp link

P&O Ferries has once again added a fiſth ship on its Dover- Calais route, saying that it would take back market leadership on the English Channel. Pride of Burgundy - a 28,000

ton vessel with a freight capacity of 120 lorries - will return to the route in June, restoring the P&O Dover-Calais fleet to its pre- pandemic strength. The ship will sail in freight-only mode. In 2019, P&O Ferries’ share

of ferry freight volumes on the Dover Strait (excluding the Channel Tunnel) was more than 50%, since when it has become part of Dubai-based global ports and logistics operator DP World. P&O’s rivals are the Channel

Tunnel, DFDS, which operates services from Dover to Calais and Dunkerque and, from June,

a new Irish Ferries Dover-Calais single ship service. DFDS has also announced plans to start a new Sheerness-Calais service for unaccompanied freight. Chief executive of P&O Ferries,

David Stretch, said the fiſth ship would “increase flexibility for customers and enable us to

deliver a cost effective freight service on the English Channel as the economy returns to normal. Dover-Calais is a vital trade route both for the UK and EU economies as well as the thousands of businesses which rely on our services. We aim to return our market share back to

where it belongs.” He also promised: “P&O will

do everything it can to continue being the brand you can trust to deliver your goods from beginning to end, with the aim of solving the most complex logistical challenges using our integrated ferry and logistics assets.” DP World chief operating

officer for logistics and technology, Mike Bhaskaran, added: “I would like to thank everyone at P&O Ferries who has worked hard to keep trade flowing during the last 12 months and am excited by the opportunities which the arrival of a fiſth ship on Dover-Calais brings, both in terms of our offer to customers and also returning P&O to growth.”

Stena sees bright outlook for ferries

Traffic on direct routes between Ireland and Continental Europe may have surged by around 180% at the beginning of the year thanks to Brexit but it is now starting to reduce and it is already starting to revert back to the land bridge, says

being rebuilt. In advance of passenger traffic resuming, Stena Estrid will be resuming sailings on the Holyhead- Dublin service. As for when car and

holiday traffic might resume as lockdown restrictions

hoping for. If we see excess demand, then as we have done on other routes recently, we will move capacity in order to ensure that we can cater for it,” Breen states. Incidentally, Stena Line

has noted a large increase in revenue from its on-board shops on routes between the UK and the EU for the first quarter of the year due to the resumption in duty free sales, which exceeded its expectations - providing a much needed boost to the industry after lockdown. Duty free sales from the first

Stena Line Irish Sea freight commercial manager, Anna Breen. Transit via the UK is once again working well for customers and confidence is

ease - and its effect on freight capacity: “It’s a very fluid situation currently so it is difficult to estimate when, but that is certainly what we are

three months of 2021 are far outstripping those of 2020, despite having only half the passengers travelling. Duty free sales are permitted on Stena’s routes between GB and

Ireland and between Harwich and Hook of Holland and Rotterdam. Stena Line is meanwhile in

the midst of a new tonnaging project but no final decision on the deployment of the last two E-Flexers has been made yet. However, the Irish Sea will receive a full complement of the new vessels. This year Stena vessels

on the North Sea will be the first sailing into the UK fitted with the AI Fuel Pilot. This technology provides the potential for up to 5% saving on

fuel consumption and

carbon emissions along with ‘green shore power’ for vessels berthed in Holland. Stena Line is meanwhile a

planning battery

electric 22 >>

Grimaldi Group is to offer a twice weekly direct ro ro service from Cork to Antwerp from the second week of May. It will be operated by the Eurocargo Bari. The Grimaldi Group has been

calling in Cork on a regular basis for almost 25 years carrying rolling freight and containers. The Naples based group operates a fleet of over 130 ro-ro, con-ro, ro-pax and cruise ferry vessels and the new Irish service will link into its network at Antwerp. Cork chief commercial officer

Conor Mowlds, said: “The decision by the Grimaldi Group to offer a direct Cork-Antwerp-Cork freight service is very welcome and will greatly support our efforts to keep supply chains moving during the current Covid-19 pandemic. The new service will also further strengthen Cork’s direct links with the heart of Europe, capitalising on the market’s growing use of the unaccompanied freight model, as shippers seek direct links to market rather than use the UK Land bridge.”

DFDS freight holds up well

DFDS says its ferry freight total volumes in March 2021 were 11.8% above the same month in 2020 while those for routes calling in the UK were up 10%. The positive momentum of

February continued into March for the North Sea and Mediterranean. Traffic on the new route between Ireland and France continued above expectations but those on the Baltic Sea were affected by the closure of the Paldiski-Hanko route. Growth in March 2021 was

boosted by Covid-19’s negative impact on volumes in the last two weeks of March 2020, especially in the Mediterranean, North Sea and Channel. Head of the Mediterranean

business unit, Lars Hoffmann, said: “Already at the end of 2020, we started to see higher volumes than the previous year. This is a direct result of efforts to streamline our operations and services in the Mediterranean and it is really paying off now. We saw increasing volumes in January and February and now in March, we were more than 20% above March 2020. In mid-February, we accommodated demand by increasing sailings to nine weekly departures from Pendik and Yalova to Trieste. This is actually the highest DFDS departures in the Mediterranean

corridor since we entered the market.” Hoffmann added: “Apart from

the positive market momentum in the Mediterranean, I believe that our extensive ferry infrastructure in combination with rail solutions also contributes to the increase in volumes. Our customers are starting to see the benefits of combining ferry and rail. Since 2020, we went from approximately 30 weekly trains from Trieste to 55-60 weekly trains in 2021 with a very high average utilisation rate.” However, a recent decline in

imports to Turkey was linked to the weak Lira and political turbulence: “This is not ideal for the balance in our flows in Trieste as customers tend to wait for return cargos to Turkey. We are looking into various solutions to soſten the impacts. However, we are used to such challenges and have the experience to navigate through them in a positive way. Trieste is a key port for us and we are looking to expand the port or inland terminal space to enable us to handle the future volume growth.” While freight prospered, total

passengers in March 2021 were 77% below 2020 due to travel restrictions that affected cruise ferry routes and the Channel.

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