Maersk Line, the world's largest shipping line, is merging its India-Colombo-North Europe (ICON) service linking the Far East and the Indian sub-continent to Northern Europe into its recently launched Asia-Europe `Maersk Daily' network.
Maersk said the move for the Asia-India-Europe lane, which will take effect in early February after the Chinese New Year, would help optimise services between the Far East, Indian sub-continent and North Europe.
Post merger, the ICON service will include a dedicated feeder link between Chittagong and the Malaysian port of Tanjung Pelas, providing access to the Asia-Europe network Maersk is promoting.
Maersk's westbound Asia-Europe service, AE7, will make a direct call in Colombo, reducing transit time from Sri Lanka to North Europe by two to three days.
Maersk will also operate a weekly Chennai feeder via Colombo, in order to improve delivery times.
While the changes will help establish a more balanced supply-demand scenario within the Far East to North Europe trade, the Danish carrier said it will not have any impact on its daily services, including transportation time.
The India-Colombo-North Europe service deploys seven Pnamax container ships.
The merger of the shipping services comes in the wake of a steep decline in spot rates on Asia-Europe route. The SCFI Shanghai Containerised Freight Index for the trade lane was down 5.4 per cent at $511 during the week, nearly a third the SCFI level for trade from Asia to the US West Coast.