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Grimaldi ‘fully committed to serve the Maltese economy’

Date: 12/03/2012

The Grimaldi Group has dismissed concern expressed over the fact that it is now the sole operator for RoRo cargo on the Genoa Malta route, saying there is no risk for higher costs as a result of its monopoly position.

The Naples-based Group was replying to The Times Business after a number of businessmen said they were worried that the exit of GNV (Grandi Navi Veloci) from this market left only one operator and would lead to a lack of competition and increased costs.

The Grimaldi Group said: “With regards to statements that have appeared in the press that the presence of only one operator could be a risk for the Maltese economy of bearing higher costs for trade between Malta and Italy, it must be said that such risk is groundless.

“The concentration process which has characterised the Italy-Malta maritime routes is absolutely not a threat to the quality and economic convenience of the services offered between the two countries. It does not imply any higher costs for importers or exporters: on the contrary, it has given the opportunity to create an efficient and economically convenient logistics system which reduces transport costs through economies of scale and scope.”

Grimaldi said that thanks to the deployment of a modern fleet with a high loading capacity and high fuel consumption efficiency only a very minor portion of the increasing bunker costs (€170.00/tonne at the beginning of 2009 compared to €500.00/tonne at the beginning of 2012) have been transferred from the Grimaldi Group to its customers. The biggest part of this increase was absorbed by the Group, it said.

It added: “The Grimaldi Group, either through Grimaldi Lines or Malta Motorways of the Sea, will continue in its full commitment to serve Malta with upgraded and economically convenient maritime links, giving a valuable contribution to Malta’s international trade and to its economic integration with the rest of Europe.”

It said that over six years have elapsed since the creation of Malta Motorways of the Sea (MMS), a sister company of the Grimaldi Group, which took over the services of the “bankrupt” state-owned company Sea Malta.

“In all these years MMS as well as Grimaldi Lines have committed themselves to upgrade and strengthen their presence in the maritime routes linking Malta with other neighbouring countries, particularly Italy. Thanks to massive investments in new and technologically advanced tonnage, an unprecedented number of RoRo and passenger services were gradually built, directly linking Malta to an extensive network of ports in the Mediterranean.

“Prior to the creation of MMS, three were the operators regularly serving the routes between Italy and Malta, among which Sea Malta. The services offered by Sea Malta were rather limited with three weekly sailings to/from Reggio Calabria, one weekly sailing to/from Genoa and one to/from Catania. Moreover, the two vessels deployed by the state-owned company were very old (the m/v Maltese Falcon being built in 1979 and the m/v Zebbug in 1969), had a reduced loading capacity, could not transport passengers and were environmentally unfriendly due to their age,” it said.

Grimaldi said that the consolidation process which took place in the last few years and which has reduced the number of operators serving the Italy-Malta routes was exclusively dictated by the market itself. It added that considering that the volume of freight handled between Italy and Malta was fragmented between various operators, this implied that no critical mass could be generated by any of the different operators operating in the trade.

“Although Grimaldi seems to be the only main leading RoRo operator serving the Italy-Malta routes, it performs more sailings compared to those offered before the consolidation process, links Malta to a much wider range of ports and at better conditions than ever before,” it said.

Currently, the Grimaldi Group offers three weekly sailings both ways to/from the north (Genoa), the centre (Livorno) and the south of Italy (Catania and Salerno) and two weekly sailings to/from Civitavecchia (centre).

“The vessels deployed, both through Grimaldi Lines and MMS, are extremely new, fast and environmentally friendly. Two of them, the Eurocargo Malta and Eurocargo Venezia, built in 2011, are the biggest RoRo vessels in the Mediterranean with a capacity of 4,000 linear metres of rolling freight each,” it said.

The Grimaldi Group operates a fleet of more than 100 ships and is a world leading operator in the transport of cars and RoRo cargo. Established in 1947, the group has 8,000 employees. In 2010, it registered a turnover of €2.3 billion and transported about 2.8 million cars, 1.4 million trailers and TEUs and more than 2.7 million passengers.


Source: Times of Malta

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