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Maersk Latin America chief– Expect more volumes in H2 if the region re-opens

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In an exclusive interview, Maersk Latin America ceo Lars Oestergaard Nielsen, talks about volumes, routes and the impact of COVID-19 in the region.

Speaking to Seatrade Maritime News Nielsen explains the impact has been seen on container shipping in Latin America in Q1. “While we don’t share specific numbers the overall view we have is that exports during Q1 from Latin America has been affected only to a small effect whereas towards the end of Q1 we have started seeing a clearer impact on the import volumes.

latammaersk.PNG“This of course makes sense with the increasing lockdowns across the region.  The volume of import is in general linked to the population size and thus the main destinations in Latin America are the largest countries like Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru,” says Nielsen.

 While the industry has seen cancellations worldwide, Maersk had to follow the trend to some extent.  “We have during Q1 been very close to our standard level of service but like everyone else we have of course had to react to the impact of COVID-19 on our business. This has led to around 10% capacity reduction,” he acknowledges.

 “We expect that we will be continuing to service all countries as per our normal coverage. We will of course need to adjust capacity to the reduced demand and while this is somewhat dynamic and fluid we expect there will be around a 20% reduction in capacity during Q2.”

 A cautious forecast and COVID-19 measures

“Yes, we do expect that volumes will start to recover in the second half of the year but of course this will depend on the re-opening of economies across the region. We will continue to adjust the capacity to match.

“The safety our crews is a priority for Maersk. We have taken all precautions to go above and beyond when it comes to apply the health measures from the authorities. When a case has been identified in a vessel, we put in place a robust plan to isolate the seafarer bringing him/her to shore for medical treatment, as well as protecting the rest of the crew. Maersk took the decision at the beginning of the crisis to extend the shifts within all vessels for 30 days, and now the company is evaluating new measures to protect much better those who are getting onboard.”

Nielsen joined AP Moeller-Maersk in 1992, holding various commercial and management roles in Asia and Latin America. In December 1, 2017, he was appointed regional ceo of Maersk in the Latin America and the Caribbean based In Panama.

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