MIDDLE EAST – German container shipping giant Hapag-Lloyd has announced plans to cut cost in 2024 bracing for tough times ahead following the financial implications of the Red Sea Crisis.

The move comes in the wake of a global oversupply of container ships coupled with a crisis unfolding in the Red Sea, severely impacting its profit margins. Hapag-Lloyd has seen an alarming 83% dip in net profit, prompting urgent action.

The ongoing crisis poses significant challenges to ship operators, particularly with the Yemen-based Houthis targeting vessels traversing one of the world’s busiest maritime routes.

These attacks have necessitated costly detours around Africa, nullifying any gains from elevated freight rates.

Rolf Habben Jansen, Chief Executive Officer of Hapag-Lloyd, acknowledges the uphill battle ahead, stating, “We expect the market environment to remain challenging given the large number of ship deliveries this year.”

“We need to further reduce our per-unit costs to ensure profitability and competitiveness in the future.”

In a bid to streamline operations, the company plans to implement several measures, including adjustments to sailings and port stops, as well as exploring operational efficiencies.

Moreover, a strategic collaboration with competitor Maersk, set to commence in February 2025, is expected to provide additional support.

Habben Jansen clarifies that while adjustments are necessary, they do not necessarily entail cuts to sailings.

Instead, route alterations have been necessitated by the Red Sea crisis. Hapag-Lloyd has already initiated land corridors through Saudi Arabia to mitigate disruptions to its business, ensuring continuity in its operations.

Crisis impact on Egyptian citrus exports

The impact of the Red Sea crisis reverberates beyond Hapag-Lloyd’s bottom line, affecting Egyptian citrus exports, particularly orange shipments to Asia.

With the escalating attacks by Yemen’s Houthis, trade routes in the region face significant disruptions.

Direct access to Gulf importing countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Kuwait has become impassable, hampering Egypt’s ability to ship oranges to its primary market.

As a result, container shipping companies have diverted from their usual routes, opting for longer voyages around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

This rerouting, though costly in terms of fuel consumption, has led to a substantial increase in sea freight rates and extended travel times.

Considering these challenges, the USDA projects a significant reduction in Egyptian orange exports, highlighting the profound impact of geopolitical crises on global trade dynamics.

As Hapag-Lloyd navigates through turbulent waters, the company remains committed to implementing cost-cutting measures to weather the storm and sustain its long-term growth trajectory.

For all the latest fresh produce industry news updates from Africa, the Middle East, and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.