The shipping company Sealink Antwerp plans to start a new service that will link the port of Almeria with Portsmouth (United Kingdom) and Zeebrugge (Belgium) starting next autumn, coinciding with Almeria's fruit and vegetable peak season.
This short-distance link will be covered by two vessels that will be able to load up to 280 semi-trailers without a driver, the vast majority of which will be able to transport produce at controlled temperatures, as reported by the company's representative, Dirk Ghys at the ‘Short sea shipping and the commitment to the sustainability of the port of Almería’ conference.
According to Ghys, the ship bound for the United Kingdom will leave Almeria on Mondays at 10 pm and dock in Portsmouth on Thursdays, to serve the London and Manchester markets. "We chose this enclave because of the short distance between southern Spain and the United Kingdom, its closeness to the motorway system, and because it has a professional stowage," he stated. In addition, the road connection with London and Manchester is less congested, he said.
Ghys highlighted the Belgian port of Zeebrugge's good connection with the hinterland of central Europe through road, barge, and rail.
The service will be marketed in Almería by J. Ronco & Cía, which will act as agent and consignee. In the rest of Spain, it will be marketed by Seatrans Maritime, and in England and Belgium by Sealink itself.
The conference highlighted the opportunities that short sea shipping can offer to fruit and vegetable exporters in the province of Almería. The president of the Almeria Port Authority, Jesus Caicedo, said the institution is working to launch a maritime link to ship these products. "I am convinced that, sooner rather than later, fruit and vegetables will reach Europe by sea," he added.
The head of the commercial division of the port institution, Jose Antonio Cuesta, said they were studying a weekly link with the United Kingdom and another with the French port of Sète, which is well connected with the rest of Europe.