Serenity in 2024

2024. A new year begins with its share of uncertainties and waves of unexpected -unimaginable even- events sweeping across the world. While I cannot predict what 2024 will bring for the shipping industry and the transport chain, I remain at ease and confident in the future, and in Marfret’s ability to find solutions and adapt to the climatic phenomena and geopolitical issues.

Resilience, agility and flexibility, the key words since 2020, are not empty concepts within our family-owned shipping company, renowned for its capacity to adapt, thanks to its rapid decision-making process and ability to develop the fleet and its routes.

A good example is our new service linking Egypt and Italy, which could well undergo some changes as a result of the serious disruption to commercial shipping in the Suez Canal. Following on from the health crisis, this new event is yet another argument in favour of the regionalisation of trade in the Mediterranean. Serious questions are also being raised about another strategic passage for international trade, the Panama Canal, which is set to become a bottleneck. The limiting of passage here to just 18 ships a day, from February 2024, is a cause for concern for fruit exporters in Latin America, once again requiring measures to adapt.

Managing sometimes means swimming against the current, while staying afloat thanks to a delicate balance between fully-owned and chartered vessels, between new and second-hand ships. With the carbon tax on ships due to come into force on 1st January 2024, we need to accelerate our decarbonisation programme and explore new technologies and energies.

In June 2023, we sold the Durande and Marajo vessels. In November, we took delivery of the Ferrymar, the new-build successor to the Marin on the West Indies service. The past year has also been marked by the erosion of freight rates caused by overcapacity, cascading and the slowdown in international trade. Navigating in troubled waters requires the ability to see far ahead with a slimmed-down crew.

The year 2024 begins with its share of good resolutions, new regulations and strategic decisions. Since 1st January, Véronique Passarelli, head of the North Atlantic South Pacific (NASP) line, has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer at Marfret. Regular customers of this long-haul service can rest assured that she will continue to supervise the transoceanic service, while also taking charge of digital transformation, environmental transition, partner relations and pricing policy as part of her COO duties. I warmly welcome Véronique Passarelli to the Marfret management team. Having joined the company 25 years ago, she took up the post of NASP deputy line manager in 2007,  before taking over at the helm of the company’s most remote and exotic service.

Together, relying on the professionalism of our teams, we will work to offer you innovative, low-carbon logistics solutions.

I would like to wish you and your families good health, happiness, success and prosperity. In 2024, set sail with Marfret.

Guillaume Vidil