The Red Sea Crisis Prolongs: Maersk Warns Customers

Maersk, the world's second largest shipping company, has warned its customers that the crisis in the Red Sea could be prolonged and continue into the second half of the year

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According to CNBC, Maersk has added 6% extra ship capacity to its sailing schedule, increasing operational costs. After Houthi rebels imposed a de facto blockade of the Suez Canal in the Red Sea, major shipping companies began sending hundreds of ships on longer and more expensive voyages through South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. Maersk suspended its operations in the region last month after the Houthis targeted two of its ships.

Meanwhile, militants vowed to expand their attacks after the US and Britain began bombing Houthi-linked targets in Yemen.

“Unfortunately, we don’t see any changes happening in the Red Sea anytime soon,” Charles van der Steene, Maersk North America regional president, told CNBC. “We are warning our customers that longer transit routes may continue through Q2 and possibly Q3. Customers will need to make sure that longer overall transit time is built into their supply chains.”

Traffic through the Suez Canal, the fastest route from Asia to Europe, accounts for around 15% of world commercial shipping. Major cargo companies are facing rising costs and skyrocketing insurance premiums as they are forced to divert ships.

According to van der Steen, shippers now need to calculate the actual costs for their supply chain in addition to deliveries. “We know that most of our customers include a cost per unit in their budgets for the supply chain, which is basically what they need for their results to work,” he said. “If and when that fundamentally changes, it can have a pretty significant impact on their overall costs.”

According to the Kiel Institute’s latest report, global trade fell by 1.3% from November 2023 to December 2023 as a result of attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea.


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