Monday, June 12, 2017

Qatar Blockade Forces Sea Freight to Introduce Feeder Services

Continued Dispute between Gulf States Looks Set to Last
Shipping News Feature
QATAR – Following the decision earlier this month by Arab countries to cut ties with the state of Qatar, several shipping lines around the world have decided to suspend ocean freight movements to the Gulf state. With region's ports effectively off limits to cargo from or destined for Qatar, the small energy-rich peninsular state has begun shipping cargo through Oman to bypass the Gulf countries, with the world’s largest container line already announcing the details of its own service to the Gulf country.

On Monday 5th June Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Egypt announced the severing of all diplomatic relations with Qatar and closed their land borders with Qatar and closed airspace, airports and seaports to Qatari carriers, the consequences of which are significant for the worldwide freight and logistics industries. The political dispute escalated after years of tensions in the region, with the severed links a response to accusations of Qatar supporting terrorist groups. Yemen, the Maldives and Libya later joined the ‘blockade’. Kuwait offered to mediate the dispute.

As the Arab countries imposed heavy restrictions on cargo to and from Qatar, the UAE extended the ban to not just Qatari carriers, but extended it to also include vessels destined for or arriving from Qatar. In response, Qatar has reportedly started shipping cargo to Oman's port of Sohar from the recently opened Hamad Port in Doha. Thinking along the same lines, Maersk Line will start a feeder service between Salalah, Oman and Doha. In a statement, Maersk Line said:

“We have now opened acceptance of cargo to/from Qatar to be transhipped over Salalah.

“We will serve Doha for our customers on our own feeder to/from Salalah. The first sailing ex-Salalah is on 19th June 2017 and arrives Doha 25th June 2017. The frequency of this service is every 10 days. We will update you during next week on rate levels effective 1st July to continue to provide reliable service in this market.

“Please note: Booking acceptance for cargo to/from Qatar is open for all countries except UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen in compliance with the government guidelines.”

On the aviation side, the three major Gulf airlines, Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar airways, have all seen major hits to their businesses with neither Emirates nor Etihad allowed to fly to Qatar, and the Saudi-led coalition closing its airspace to Qatar Airways.