Genoa - The crisis in the port of La Spezia is likely to become more serious. The conflict at the heart of the crisis is between MSC, the second largest shipping company in the world, and the terminal operator Contship, which manages the largest share of container traffic in the port of La Spezia. Gianluigi Aponte’s group has decided to shift another share of traffic to Genoa. The shipowner chose the docks at the PSA terminal in Pra’ for the import traffic generated by its Dragon service. This time MSC’s move is more subtle: after the break in relations between the shipping company and the terminal operator, the first move in the war, as reported by Il Secolo XIX / The MediTelegraph, was the elimination of a service to La Spezia. Therefore Medusec is moving entirely to Genoa this very month. For the moment, the gains are only partial. Only the import element of the freight that the ships transport to and from Asia will arrive on the docks managed by PSA. It seems reductive, but for La Spezia it means losing “about 80,000 to 90,000 TEU” as a source in the sector reveals.
The fierce competition between the two shipping groups is currently costing a 10 to 15% drop in traffic volumes at the port of La Spezia. If this were just the beginning of a wider retreat by MSC, a concerned operator explains that it “would be a disaster” for the port of La Spezia. Contship could rely on the market: out with the single shipping company, and in with more clients. After all, the Hanjin crisis had caused fears in many ports, but the freight was subsequently transported by other carriers. But with this last move, MSC has greatly complicated life at Contship: leaving the export part to the port of La Spezia, the company occupies what in jargon is called a “window”. That is, MSC’s flag is still planted there, limiting the possibility of another company coming to the terminal. The Dragon service connects China, South Korea and Singapore to the Mediterranean. The VTE Terminal has further tightened its links to the MSC group: at the Pra’ docks, two mega container carriers from the Aponte company have already arrived, in addition to the two services “stolen” from La Spezia.
And MSC is also a Contship partner in Gioia Tauro, the most important transhipment port in Italy, which is now at the centre of a dispute with the Port Authority over their requirement for the verification of investments. VTE has also taken advantage of these difficulties, and the share of transhipment traffic at PSA’s port has increased, a sign that traffic is also coming to Pra’ from Gioia Tauro, and not only from La Spezia. However, the key to winning the Contship battle could be Genoa’s new container terminal: with Bettolo operational, MSC could send it the traffic that it had planned to direct to other ports, most of all La Spezia and Gioia Tauro.