Safeen Pioneer in Kaosiung Credit VesselFinder
Credit VesselFinder.

Safeen Feeders, a short-haul shipping arm of AD Ports (Abu Dhabi Ports), has set up a co-operation deal with CMA CGM to jointly operate a regional feeder service out of India, its maiden entry into the Southeast Asia market.

The feeder service will rotate Chennai, Singapore and Colombo, ostensibly betting on transhipment cargo moving in and out of India’s east coast corridor which has historically reeled under direct, origin-to-destination connectivity constraints.

“The ‘SAFEEN Pioneer,’ which has a container capacity of 2,034 teu, will join CMA CGM Group’s Songa Tiger on the India East Coast Express 2 service, connecting these key ports,” said the feeder line. “Safeen Feeders will market the service under the name Singapore Chennai Colombo Service (SCC).”

Safeen Feeders was founded in June 2020, as AD Ports saw further growth opportunities on the strength in the synergies offered by a more varied portfolio of operations.

“This service connects key global markets with some of the busiest ports in the world and will help boost trade and improve delivery times,” said Safeen acting CEO Ammar Mubarak Al Shaiba. “Our aim is to provide key services across the seas where our customers need them most, and today’s announcement demonstrates the breadth of our international ambitions.”

The latest collaboration extends an investment partnership already in place between CMA Terminals and AD Ports, held 70:30 respectively, for a 1.8m teu container terminal project at Khalifa Port, UAE’s growing hub gateway. With an estimated investment of $155m announced in September last year, the new facility, awarded on a 35-year operating concession, is due to go live in 2024.

Chennai Port is the busiest container handler in southern India but has fewer long-haul connections. As the economic crisis plaguing Sri Lanka flared up, many carriers serving Indian trades responded by fielding block trains to divert some Chennai freight away from Colombo to ship through their available mainline connections at Nhava Sheva/JNPT.

Safeen’s entry comes close on the heels of Singapore-based liner Ocean Network Express (ONE) opening a feeder connection out of West India (Hazira Port) to Singapore and Colombo. Hazira had been a major victim of carrier port call readjustments to cover delays at other ports that challenge a weekly sailing frequency.

Nhava Sheva also continues to face sporadic void calls on weekly premier long-haul services, particularly on MSC’s HEX and IPAK services between India and Europe.  HEX has already announced a blank sailing at the port for this month.

According to industry sources, this capacity unpredictability is driving new market opportunities for short-haul routings.

“Transhipment movement burdens the cargo owner with extra costs on top of high freight rates,” an exporter group representative told The Loadstar.  “The market scenario forces them to pay for ad-hoc services with transit time disadvantages,” the official added.

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