Reykjavík to Rotterdam: Adding New Clout

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Freight forwarder Smyril Line Cargo takes its Northeast Atlantic route network to the next level with ro/ro vessel Mykines, adding both Rotterdam and the Reykjavík region to the mix — luring exporters and importers alike.

[Edmund Jacobsen & Bui Tyril]

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Faroese roll-on/roll-off carrier Smyril Line Cargo has significantly increased the options available for exporters and importers in Iceland and the Faroe Islands by purchasing ro/ro cargo ferry ‘Mykines’ to introduce a new route between Rotterdam and Thorlákshöfn near Reykjavík via Tórshavn.

The move is considered an important step forward in the fast-paced infrastructure development for the Northeast Atlantic island communities.

“This is very good news for Faroese and Icelandic importers and exporters and their clients and suppliers,” managing director Halgir Dahl Olesen said of the new scheduled freight service between the island communities and Europe’s largest logistic hub.

“For example, fruits and vegetables have traditionally not been well covered in the Faroe Islands, with weekly deliveries only, coming via Denmark on weekends after trucking from Rotterdam. Now, by contrast, we add fresh deliveries midweek, straight from Rotterdam, which makes it the more fresh as no time is lost in rerouting.”

Exporters of seafood, meanwhile, can now ship containers to the Far East straight through Rotterdam, using Smyril Line Cargo’s new route—an option the company could not offer earlier on its own grid.

As for Iceland, adding a port of call in the Reykjavík region in the southwest corner of the country looks sensible; Smyril Line Cargo already has many years of experience on the east coast where ro/pax ferry Norröna makes year-around weekly port calls at Seyðisfjörður. “We have a great team in Iceland, which has now been extended with our new Reykjavík office,” Mr. Dahl Olesen said. “Our operations on the east coast are well consolidated, which is an advantage for our new service via Thorlákshöfn—and we note that Icelandic exporters have received it with enthusiasm.”

Now for importers, the introduction time line looks somewhat different.

“When it comes to imports it will take a while to explain the advantages and benefits offered through our new route,” Mr. Dahl Olesen said.

“In both Iceland and the Faroe Islands it takes on average many more importers to match the equivalent volumes of goods shipped in the other direction by a very few exporters. Besides, we are presenting some new opportunities with regard to direct import from Rotterdam. Whereas increased supply of fresh fruits and vegetables is of interest for Faroese retailers in particular, we believe Icelandic car dealers as well as other importers will regard our new route favorably.”

Previously named ‘Auto Baltic’, built in 1996 at the UMOE Sterkoder shipyard in Norway, the Mykines measures 138.5 meters in length by 22.6m in width.

‘Well connected’

Smyril Line’s contract to acquire its new ro/ro freight vessel from Finnish shipping company Bore is clearly a step toward still greater integration and more trade opportunities. With the Mykines, Smyril Line’s fleet expansion of recent years continues with ro/ro vessels ‘Eystnes’ and ‘Hvítanes’ added only three years ago to join the fleet alongside the Norröna. This four-strong fleet puts Smyril Line Cargo in a significantly strengthened position to serve its client base on both exports and imports.

Offering seafood exporters in Iceland and the Faroe Islands to ship containers directly to the Far East via Rotterdam is seen as a competitive maneuver, with Smyril Line Cargo not having this option earlier using own vessels, Mr. Olesen pointed out.

Moreover, by transshipping cargo in the Faroe Islands, Smyril Line Cargo will be linking Russia, the Baltic region and Denmark to the Reykjavík area, while also offering eastern Iceland and the Faroe Islands an excellent connection to the heart of Europe.

“By acquiring the Mykines, Smyril Line Cargo has cemented its position as the only ro/ro transport provider in the Northeast Atlantic,” Mr. Dahl Olesen said. “We are now able to offer our customers a better service than ever and a broader range of effective transport solutions.”

Mr. Olesen’s brother, Rene Dahl Olesen, also managing director, added: “By expanding our freight grid, we want to strengthen exporters’ and importers’ competitiveness, and to enable them to offer their clients better service, more opportunities, excellent transit times and greater flexibility.”

He added: “While people in mainland Europe may tend to perceive the island communities in the Northeast Atlantic as remote and isolated locations, they would be in for a surprise to learn that both the Faroe Islands and Iceland are well connected in every sense of the word, whether by sea or air, or telecommunications for that matter.”

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