Maersk Line is to withdraw its dedicated Tasman Star service in July and instead accommodate trans-Tasman shippers within its five weekly mainline offerings between Australia and New Zealand.
Describing a “tough market environment” and need to balance providing sustainable and reliable products with ensuring revenue keeps up with costs, the carrier had advised the schedule will cease with the RHL Aurora voyage 1815/1816 phasing out at Sydney on July 12. Although, at the time of publication, that vessel was reported to have broken down and was at anchor off Melbourne port.
Maersk’s Bell Bay call will also be discontinued as part of the service revision, with the carrier indicating that during the phase-out it will work “closely with Tasmanian customers to offer alternative options for their immediate planned shipments”.
The announcement has drawn a mixed reaction within the New Zealand marketplace with both the New Zealand Importers’ Institute and ExportNZ expecting sufficient capacity to remain on the tradelane and rates to be unaffected.
Contrastingly, New Zealand Shippers’ Council chairperson Mike Knowles says that, although the development was not “entirely unexpected”, his members have concerns the Tasman Star withdrawal, “effectively reduces choice and competition”.
“And that is never a good outcome,” he said.
“There is also some nervousness about whether this will be a continuing trend – shippers are watching this space carefully.”