Top container shipping lines reviewing Iran operations

Maersk Line and MSC are reviewing their Iran operations after US President Donald Trump scrapped the Iranian nuclear deal. (Reuters)
Updated 11 May 2018

Top container shipping lines reviewing Iran operations

  • Maersk and MSC review Iran operations
  • MSC already stops taking bookings for some cargoes

The world’s top two container shipping groups Maersk Line and MSC are reviewing their Iran operations after the US withdrawal from the international nuclear agreement with Tehran.
The 2015 agreement, worked out by the United States, five other world powers and Iran, lifted sanctions on Tehran in exchange for limits to its nuclear program.
US President Donald Trump also instructed his administration to re-impose US sanctions after a winding down period.
“MSC is reviewing its services, operations and business relationships to understand if any are impacted and will comply with the timetable set out by the US government,” the private Swiss-headquartered group said in a statement on Friday.
MSC suspended services between 2012 and 2014 and when they were resumed the line used small, regional third-party feeder ships to carry cargo between Iran and MSC’s transshipment hub at Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates.
A shipping source said MSC had already stopped taking bookings for certain cargoes that would be impacted by the sanctions program.
The US Treasury said this week Washington was imposing sanctions on the direct or indirect sale, supply, or transfer to or from Iran of graphite, raw, or semi-finished metals such as aluminum and steel, coal, and software for integrating industrial processes.
Denmark’s Maersk Line said separately it had ceased acceptance of the specific cargoes listed by the US Treasury this week.
“Our presence in Iran is limited. We will monitor the developments to assess any impact on our activities,” Maersk Line added.
The group also used feeder services to Iran from Jebel Ali.
Iran relies on seaborne trade for both imports as well as for sales of its goods apart from oil and the country had struggled with logistical difficulties before international sanctions were lifted in 2016.
Iran’s port operators and shipping sectors, including top cargo operator the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and oil tanker group NITC, will once again be blacklisted on Nov. 4 by Washington.
The US will separately re-impose sanctions on the provision of insurance and reinsurance, which had been another challenge for Iran in the past.
Every ship requires various insurance cover to allow for journeys at sea.
“The decision is expected to have significant implications for maritime trade with Iran and the insurance of such trade,” said Nigel Carden, deputy chairman for Thomas Miller, the manager of ship insurer UK P&I Club.
Carden said a full assessment would only be possible once there was more clarity, and urged caution before entering into any new Iran related cargo bookings.
Lloyd’s of London said it was “currently reviewing the “implications for the Lloyd’s (insurance) market.”
Europe’s heavyweight economies took steps on Friday to safeguard their commercial and political interests in Iran.


Oman said to mull new regional airline

Updated 57 min 12 sec ago

Oman said to mull new regional airline

DUBAI: Oman is considering setting up a new regional airline that could take over domestic operations from state carrier Oman Air, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

A request for proposal was issued this month by state entity Oman Aviation Group for a feasibility study into operating the new airline, “Oman Link,” the sources said.

Setting up a new airline for domestic flights would allow Oman Air to focus on its international network where it competes with large Gulf carriers Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad Airways.

The new airline could partner with Oman Air with both carriers connecting passengers to each other but would have its own independent management, the sources said on the condition of anonymity because the details are private.

Proposals are to be submitted by Nov. 11, one of the sources said.

The new airline would use regional jets for domestic flights and potentially later to other cities in the region where there is not enough demand to fill the larger single aisle jets used by other airlines in Oman.

FASTFACT

Oman Air operates flights to four airports in the country, including the main Muscat International.

Oman Aviation Group and its unit Oman Air did not respond to separate emailed requests for comment.

Oman Air operates flights to four airports in the country, including the main Muscat International, according to its website.

The airline uses 166-seat Boeing 737 jets and 71-seat Embraer E175 aircraft on domestic and regional flights.

Both aircraft types are too costly to consistently operate domestic routes at a profit, according to industry sources.

Oman has been restructuring its aviation sector in recent years. Oman Aviation Group was formed in 2018 and includes Oman Air, Oman Airports and Oman Aviation Services.

A budget, second airline, Salam Air, was launched in 2017. It is owned by Omani government pension funds and the Muscat municipality.

Last week, Eithad and Air Arabia said they were jointly setting up a low cost carrier in Abu Dhabi.