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Maersk to suspend direct services between Gdansk and Asia

Danish shipping line Maersk will suspend direct connections from Asia to the port of Gdańsk. Starting next year, goods will reach Gdańsk via German ports.

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Maersk’s decision follows its new alliance with the German shipping company Hapag-Lloyd, based in Hamburg. Known as the Gemini Cooperation, this arrangement has seen Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd create a joint fleet of 290 ships, with Maersk providing about 60% of the fleet. The aim of this cooperation is to shorten delivery times by eliminating numerous port stops along the way, increase the flexibility of deliveries, and reduce emissions.

However, this also means changes in the connection network and the elimination of up to half of direct connections. While Maersk currently sails from Asia to 11-13 ports in Northern Europe, under the Gemini Alliance, this will be reduced to 5-6 ports, with Gdańsk being one of the affected ports.

This does not mean that goods from Asia will no longer reach Gdańsk. The port will become a so-called feeder port, receiving deliveries from smaller vessels reloaded in German ports, specifically Wilhelmshaven and Bremerhaven. In addition to these two ports, which will handle reloading to Gdańsk, the Gemini Alliance will also sail to Hamburg, Rotterdam, and Felixstowe in Great Britain.

Reiner Horn, Maersk’s European spokesperson, says that the changes will not affect the volume of cargo handled by the port of Gdańsk. He adds that under the new system, feeder shuttle traffic between German ports and Gdańsk will not stop at other ports and will flow directly to the Polish port, unlike today’s feeder services. According to Horn, this will reduce transit times by several days.

“The containers will flow as before, just more reliable on schedule and more resilient in times of disruptions,” says Horn.

There is no denying that this is a blow to Gdańsk, which has been consistently expanding its transshipment capacity for several years and climbing the ranking of Baltic ports. In 2023, the largest Polish port was the second largest port on the Baltic Sea in terms of transshipment, handling a total of 81 million tons of cargo, including just over 2 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) containers.

Despite Maersk’s decision, the world’s largest shipowner MSC, the third-ranked French shipowner CMA CGM, and the Chinese operator COSCO, still sail directly to Gdańsk from Asia.

It is worth emphasizing that Maersk is the second largest shipowner in the world in terms of transport capacity, and Hapag-Lloyd is the fifth largest. According to the latest data from Alphaliner, Maersk has a fleet with a capacity of 4.34 million TEU (14.6% share in global transport capacity) and Hapag-Lloyd has 2.15 million TEU (7.2%).