Israel's Ashdod Port, one of the largest ports of the country, is continuing to operate normally despite the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, according to the executive chairman of the Ashdod Port Company's board of directors, Shaul Schneider.
Talking to Container News, he pointed out that employees of Ashdod Port Company continue to maintain operational continuity for the Israeli economy and are working even faster, understanding the importance of maintaining the normal operations of the port.
Port of Ashdod, the only state-owned port in Israel, is operating 24/7 with employees working longer shifts mainly for two reasons. The first reason is their own safety. According to Schneider, it is safer for port employees to remain at the port area rather than be on the road in order to return home. Additionally, Israel's military has recruited 10% of the Ashdod Port Company personnel, and therefore, the remaining staff must fill the gap.
Regarding special measures and guidelines that the Israeli ports may have received from the government, Shau Schneider said there are no special regulations for Ashdod Port. "We are trying to maintain our normal operations under such circumstances," he noted.
Christian Roeloffs, co-founder and CEO of Container xChange, an online platform for container logistics: "In the case of the conflict in Israel, any expansion of the hostilities beyond the country's borders could introduce risks to two vital shipping choke points. The Suez Canal, a critical waterway for various commercial vessels, including container ships, may face disruptions. Similarly, the Strait of Hormuz, a backbone for oil and gas shipping, could be affected. However, the extent of these effects will largely depend on the conflict's expansion and duration."
First war-related surcharges
However, it is still important to see the impact of the conflict on container rates in and out of Israeli ports. Container News asked Schneider about his information and estimations about possible trends in Ashdod port box rates. He believes that shipping lines will not increase their rates in Ashdod, and he said that he has not seen any rate increases, surcharges, or additional fees so far. He expressed, however, his concerns about possible increased insurance costs.
In any case, South Korean ocean carrier HMM has already announced a war risk surcharge (WRS) on Israeli cargo in a customer advisory on October 18.
"As costs increase by deterioration situation from/to Israel, we would have to inform our customers that we implement the WRS with immediate effect on all equipment types to maintain our service from/to Israel," said HMM in its announcement.
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