The Falkland Islands government and the local fishing industry have promised support for the maintenance of the containerised international freight services, which is expected to resume activities in the coming months.
In an official announcement released Wednesday FIG said it had reached “heads of agreement with Consolidated Fisheries Ltd to enable South American Atlantic Service Ltd (SAAS) to resume its international freight services in the near future”.
However Falklands’ authorities are aware that fresh challenges to the international links may occur, “but we shall continue to meet these with our usual determination”.
The three year deal will ensure that the financial support is available to enable SAAS to plan for the longer term and ensure customers can also plan to use the service with a high degree of confidence.
“Both CFL and FIG will cooperate to enable the Company to provide competitive freight rates over the next three years even if freight volumes continue to be low”.
Further on it points out that FIG had already taken steps “to ensure that the MV Scout would be available to SAAS if a deal was done and the Scout will be on charter to SAAS from 1 September”.
MV Scout is the vessel used by SAAS for the service which finished in July.
For its part SAAS has ensured that it has “a number of options available for shipping routes which plug in to the world wide container network and can provide an efficient service through to final destination for customers. The SAAS Board will determine which of these is to be utilised when the service starts”.
The service should start in the near future and by November at the latest, said the release.
“It will be necessary to recruit a General Manager and other staff and put in place many other practicalities which may mean the service cannot start immediately”.
SAAS is also expected to contact its customers directly in due course to advise them of how they can obtain details of freight timings and costs.
Commenting on the deal Member of the Legislative Assembly Gavin Short said that “we have been reassuring the community for a long time that work was being done behind the scenes to ensure a satisfactory containerised shipping service would continue. The community has been very patient and this is being repaid in our announcement today of a long term deal which will see SAAS through the next few years. We should not fool ourselves that fresh challenges to our international links may occur but we shall continue to meet these with our usual determination. Farmers, fishing companies and other customers should now await arrangements to be put in place by SAAS to enable the continuance of the service”
Although money-loosing, the SAAS service with the South American continent rendered a great container service for the shipment of the Falklands’ fish, meat and wool.
When SAAS announced the cease of activities, Hamish Wylie one of the directors and who is also director of Consolidated Fisheries Ltd. said he was convinced pressure from other companies and unacceptably high shipping costs resulted in “a failure to secure the volumes of cargo necessary to maintain the service, which the company announced will be withdrawn at the end of June”.
After a period of uncertainty when the SAAS contract with the MV Anja came to an end, a new vessel, Scout, was chartered and a new route established between Stanley and Rio Grande in Brazil. The original SAAS service between Stanley, Montevideo in Uruguay and Punta Arenas in Southern Chile was then abandoned.