CMA CGM Switches Course Rerouting Australia Service from Red Sea

CMA CGM in Red Sea
CMA CGM is transiting the Red Red with escorts but now says its Australia route will reroute around Africa (Armée Française - Opérations Militaires)

Published Jan 19, 2024 4:49 PM by The Maritime Executive


French shipping giant CMA CGM appears to have had a change of mind informing customers that it has temporarily switched its NEMO route to Australia to sail around Africa. This comes after the carrier had said at the beginning of the year that it would continue to send some vessels through the Red Sea and was “devising plans for the gradual increase in the number of vessels transiting through the Suez Canal.”

Last weekend, attempting to emphasize that transits were continuing, the Suez Canal Authority released pictures of the 44 vessels making the trip on Saturday, January 13, which features CMA CGM vessels including the company’s newest, largest class of LNG-fueled containerships. Similarly, the French Navy released pictures this week showing CMA CGM and APL branded containerships making the Red Sea transit accompanied by a warship, while CMA CGM Chairman and CEO Rodolphe Saade speaking to the Financial Times said they would continue to sail in the Red Sea when they can be accompanied.

Saade, however, went on to say in the Financial Times interview that it was on a case-by-case basis with the company meeting daily to plan its operations. The newspaper quotes Saade as saying the company schedules are in “complete disarray and we’re not able to stick to our timings.” He said some vessels are going around Africa while others are forced to wait for their Red Sea escorts.


Suez Canal Authority showed a CMA CGM vessels transiting the Canal on January 13 (SCA)


Writing to customers today, the company says “Due to recent attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea region, CMA CGM Group is taking contingency measures on several services usually crossing the Suez Canal in order to ensure the safety of its vessels and their crews navigating these waters.”

They are calling it a temporary change impacting the Europe to Australia routing in both directions. CMA CGM notes, however, that they are able to now provide weekly connections between Europe and Reunion, Mauritius, and Australia, and from Australia to Singapore and India. The company did not say why the decision was made to totally alter the one route.

Vessels owned by the company are making the Red Sea transit, but on January 2, the CMA CGM Tage (9,200 TEU registered in Malta) reported three explosions nearby. The vessel is on a different route operating between China, the Middle East, Greece, Romania, and Turkey. 

“There appears to be no solution for now,” Saade told the Financial Times. “We’re bracing for this to last several months.”

Other major carriers including MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd, and many of the Asian-based companies, continue to entirely avoid the Red Sea and Suez Canal due to ongoing security concerns. Maersk CEO Vincent Clerc this week expressed a similar concern to Saade saying that he too expected the disruptions would continue for months.