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GNV rolling cargo service between Genoa and Malta stopped

Date: 12/03/2012

The GNV (Grandi Navi Veloci) freight ferry service for rolling cargo and passengers with cars between northern Italy and Malta has been stopped, leaving only one operator in the market.

The service, which used to operate between Genoa and Malta, was “suspended” suddenly at the end of January after about 20 years of operations, with no prior warning to the Maltese market.

A number of businessmen have told The Times Business about their concern at the fact that the Malta market for RoRo cargo is now dominated by one operator, Grimaldi Lines of Naples.

One businessman told The Times Business: “After the forced liquidation of Sea Malta a few years ago, the only operators offering this type of service were Grimaldi Naples and GNV of Genoa. Local and foreign trailer operators had a choice and the strong competition between these companies was evident in the market. That choice has now disappeared.”

However Ernest Sullivan, managing director of Sullivan Maritime, agents for Grimaldi, said Gimaldi has long invested in the Malta route and never took advantage of its dominant position. Mr Sullivan told The Times Business: “In the days of Sea Malta you had three lines offering one service a week on the same day. Today Grimaldi offers three services a week from Genoa which more than covers the demand of the market. We never took advantage of our dominant position, which was 80 per cent of the market, and we have no intention of taking advantage now that we are the sole operator.”

Mr Sullivan added: “We have no intention of putting up our rates, unless of course the price of fuel goes up, and our rates have always been in full respect of our public service obligations.”

Another businessman said: “The suspension of GNV services has definitely affected our service level and most of all wiped out the possibility for our industry to negotiate healthily since all the cargo movements are now in the hands of one line.

“Notwithstanding the fact that Grimaldi Napoli has invested heavily in the market and has given Malta a considerable boost by using Valletta as a hub for Libya, it is an undeniable fact that a monopoly situation restricts growth in our already very fragile sector and could lead to the end of the competitiveness many of us have based our services on for many years.

“We hope that GNV resumes its services or that an alternative is found giving our industry the ability to choose the right connections and service providers to complete our transport movements based on the three main criteria we look for when quoting our clients, namely, the nearest connecting port to destination, the service level provided by any supplier and finally the most competitive sea freight rate.”

He added: “Even though Grimaldi offers the most comprehensive Ro-Ro schedule any line has ever operated out of Malta, it should opt for the intelligent and long term route of assisting another line to call into Malta, reducing their operational risks and responsibilities to a reasonable level . It will take only one mishap, such as a heavy delay or service level failure in the operation to bring the island to its knees since we have no other feasible alternative.”

Karl Gollcher, a director at Gollcher Group, agents for GNV, told The Times Business: “We were told that GNV suspended the Malta service due to technical and operative reasons. Naturally, the market and customers who had given GNV support over all these years were not too happy, to say the least. At the same time, I must say that it has been a tremendous challenge for our firm to have been involved in the development of this important sea link for our island.”


Source: Times of Malta

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