Incheon New Port Source Incheon Port

Rising demand for container exports to the Middle East has seen Incheon Port launch a direct container service to the Persian Gulf for the first time in five years.

SeaLead Shipping is extending its Far East-Middle East service to include calls at the South Korean gateway.

A spokesperson told The Loadstar: “We will cover Incheon as an additional call, using our FAM service on a fortnightly basis, following demand from customers for South Korea to Middle East exports.”

The FAM is served by eight ships of 4,000 to 5,600 teu that call at Incheon, Busan, Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, Nansha and Jebel Ali. Its first call at Incheon is expected on Wednesday, by the 5,600 teu Suez Canal.

South Korean forwarder Always Blue Sea & Air, SeaLead’s sales agency, expects the extended FAM to boost South Korea-Middle East trade by carrying more goods to the Red Sea, East Africa, North Africa, Mediterranean, Black Sea and Southern Europe.

CEO Nam Keuk-young added: “Shippers and forwarders in the Seoul metropolitan area will have a wider range of choices, as well as faster and more convenient connections to the Middle East.”

Incheon’s last container shipping link to the Persian Gulf, the Touska service of Iranian line IRISL in June 2016, was aborted in 2018 after US sanctions were reimposed on Iran.

Incheon Port Authority said it hoped to increase throughput by 50,000 teu a year with the extended FAM, the fourth service the port has launched this year. Currently, there are 70 regular liner services calling.

This month, The Loadstar reported that freight rates from China to the Persian Gulf have been healthier than those on long-haul lanes, due to weakened western economies. As manufacturing grows in the Middle East, liner operators have been starting services to the region.

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