© André Muller

Indian shippers and freight forwarders, already dealing with vessel space constraints, are going to see a long streak of missed key port calls on the Indian Ocean Service (IOS), a premier connection between West India and North Europe.

The weekly service, operated by Hapag-Lloyd in a consortium deal with Ocean Network Express (ONE), will intermittently void calls at Nhava Sheva (JNPT), Mundra, Rotterdam, London Gateway and Antwerp from July through September.

In addition, Hazira, the service’s third Indian port of call, will be permanently omitted throughout this period.

A total of eight sailings will be impacted, beginning with the Sofia Express, voyage 2325W, through to the Kyoto Express, voyage 2333W.

“These changes will be in place to improve the service’s schedule reliability,” Hapag-Lloyd advised customers.

The service uses a fleet of eight ships, seven from Hapag-Lloyd and one from ONE, with an average capacity of about 10,000 teu. CMA CGM is a co-loader on via slot arrangements, operating it as EPIC2.

The full rotation would be: Hamburg-Antwerp, Rotterdam-London Gateway-Tanger Med-Jeddah-Jebel Ali-Port Qasim-Mundra-Hazira-Nhava Sheva (JNPT)-Jeddah-Tanger Med.

To make up for the call cancellations, Hapag-Lloyd has suggested Indian customers look at options via Jebel Ali for eastbound shipments and through Mundra calls for westbound bookings.

Schedule disruptions are ongoing and widespread: MSC’s current week vessel, MSC Pina, on the Himalaya Express (HEX) service between India and Europe will be skipping the port of Hamburg and CMA CGM has also announced “schedule recovery-related port call readjustments” for its Columbus JAX service (Far East-North America east coast/west coast), blanking Colombo, Savannah and Norfolk on four voyages between June and July.

Schedule disruptions and vessel delays create onerous tasks for exporters, due to constant gate cut-off changes, creating considerable challenges to planning export loads.

Meanwhile, the pace of Indian exports remains bullish.  A Sakthivel, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations, said: “The highest-ever exports, of over $38.94bn during May, of a fiscal year shows the continuous resilience of the exports sector amid rising global uncertainties.”

Reflecting that trade growth, Indian container volumes (major and minor ports combined) hit 1.67m teu in May, up from 1.6m teu a year ago, according to industry data.

You can contact the writer at [email protected].

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