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Maersk Red Sea avoidance drives new fees on shippers

Rerouting via the Cape of Good Hope prompts the Danish carrier to implement surcharges

Latest diversion plans published by Maersk indicate more of its boxships have opted for the longer route

MAERSK has announced Red Sea-related surcharges as more of its containerships divert around the Cape of Good Hope.

The decision came after the Danish giant recently paused all transits through the key international waterway following a Houthi militant attack on Maersk Hangzhou (IMO: 9784300) on December 31. 

“Diverting vessels around the Cape of Good Hope to mitigate the risks of sailing through the region is a necessary step in the interest of safety, but it has ultimately brought about increased costs for carriers,” it said in an statement.

Invoking carriage term and bill of lading clauses, the company is imposing a transit disruption surcharge ranging from $200 to $450 per container on cargo originating from Far East Asia, effective immediately.

Additionally, a peak season surcharge of $300 to $2,000 per container will apply for actual vessel sailing dates from January 1, 2024.

For cargo from other regions, Maersk is charging similar levels of TDS and an emergency contingency surcharge ranging from $100 to $2,100 per container.

“Our teams will continue evaluating the impact and hope to withdraw surcharges as soon as operationally feasible, but they may also increase depending on circumstances,” said the company.

Peers such as France’s CMA CGM have already imposed comparable add-on fees, pushing shipping costs involving the Red Sea route to new highs since the pandemic ebbed.

The Drewry World Container Index on January 4 shows Asia-North Europe/Mediterranean rates up almost 150% compared with December 14 levels, when the market saw latest lows before rerouting around Africa.

“Drewry anticipates East-West spot rates to increase in the coming weeks, due to the Red Sea/Suez situation,” the consultancy said.

Vespucci Maritime chief Lars Jensen in a LinkedIn post hinted that freight rates still have far to climb to carrier desired levels.

“But at the same time, the level is roughly $2,000 per feu below some of the announced [Freight All Kinds] rates carriers are aiming for in mid-January, and when PSS is added then these spot rates are $3,000-$4,000 per feu lower than what the carriers are currently aiming for.”

Maersk’s latest Red Sea and Suez Canal diversion schedule shows 135 vessels marked “diverted via Cape of Good Hope”, up from 121 on January 3, while the “to be announced” ones fell from 54 to 37.

This indicates more containerships opting for the longer route to mitigate potential security threats.

It remains unclear when tensions in the Red Sea region may ease.

Less than 24 hours after a 13-nation coalition led by the US warned Houthi rebels to cease attacks on merchant ships, the militants responded by launching an explosive-laden drone boat in the shipping lane.


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