LONDON: Container lines are refusing to accept any cargo bookings to and from Qatar after the Persian Gulf state plunged into a diplomatic row with some of its Arab neighbours that have shut down land, sea, and air ties to the Country.
Carriers received no advance warning and are now scrambling to find ways to mitigate the impact of a complete break in transport ties between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Egypt, and the Maldives.
“In response to the current political situation in the region, all OOCL [Orient Overseas Container Line] booking to and from Qatar is suspended until further notice. We are working closely with our stakeholders to address the impact on services,” Hong Kong-listed OOCL told customers.
Maersk Line said it was impacted by Arab countries cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar, and that DP World Jebel Ali and Abu Dhabi Terminals would no longer accept cargo to and from Qatar ports, including transshipment cargo.
“In compliance with the above guidelines we are ceasing cargo acceptance between Qatar and the above countries with immediate effect,” Maersk Line said in a customer advisory. “We have temporarily closed bookings for cargo from rest of the world that transship over Jebel Ali to and from Qatar. We are working on alternative solutions to ensure movement of your cargo in compliance with above guidelines.”
The six Arab countries on June 5 accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and broke off diplomatic relations.
All land, sea, and air connections between those countries and Qatar have been suspended and maritime analyst Alphaliner reports that the Saudi Ports Authority has notified shipping agents not to receive vessels carrying Qatari flags or Qatari ships while the UAE Ports of Fujairah and Jebel Ali said all vessels flying the flag of Qatar or destined for Qatar will not be allowed to call at the port.