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Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping line, operating in conjunction with Malaysia International Shipping Corporation Berhad (MISC), has announced plans to relocate their Southern Star service to Port of Tauranga.

The service is done in with the following port rotations: Tanjung Pelapas (Malaysia), Singapore, Tauranga, Lyttelton, Port Chalmers, Tanjung Pelapas).

A factor in the move is the ongoing industrial action at the Ports of Auckland which resulted in the port locking out workers early this week.

Maersk Line New Zealand Trade and Marketing Manager Dave Gulik was quoted saying the industrial action at the port had been a factor in the company’s decision.

“The security of their supply chain is of primary importance to our customers, so anything affecting that, or likely to affect that in the future, will come into the equation when we are deciding schedules,” he was quoted saying in a TV NZ report.

Maersk provides a service which gives local shippers direct access to the Asian hub ports of Klang and Tanjung Pelepas, and says it will continue to run some cargo through Auckland.

Port of Tauranga chief executive, Mark Cairns, said Maersk Line and MISC’s announcement is great news. “We have been working for some time to attract a new import ship call to Tauranga to better balance our MetroPort rail shuttle service to and from Auckland.

“We are very pleased to confirm the announcement by Maersk Line and MISC who will now operate both their Northern and Southern Star services through Tauranga on a weekly basis, with connections through to their South East Asian hubs.”

Maersk Line and MISC s new port rotation will commence on Saturday 10 December 2011 with the arrival of the vessel Euromax and will be reviewed again in June 2012, when MISC are withdrawing from container line shipping globally

The move means Ports of Auckland — the current port of call for Maersk — will cost 52 ship calls, 82,500 containers and nearly $20m in revenue annually.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association [EMA] was quoted saying exports and importers would also be hit by the decision.

EMA chief executive Kim Campbell was quoted saying Auckland importers and exporters can ill afford the extra time and cost of freighting goods to and from Tauranga or via other alternatives.

The Maritime Union was reported saying the port has missed an opportunity to get back around the negotiating table and on that basis, the strike action that is planned to get underway at 10:30am on Thursday will go ahead.

Maritime Union president Gary Parslow told ONE News shipping lines change their ports of destination quite often and play the ports off against each other. Source: Port of Tauranga press release, TV NZ


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