Izmir: Lucien Arkas is one of the most important shipowners in Turkey and also an expert of container short-sea transport in the Mediterrean arena.
Arkas’s eponymous family run company has been in existence since 1902 and nowadays the group operates in many different fields, including logistics services that integrate sea, land, rail and air transportation, agency services, ship operations, port operations, bunkering, automotive, insurance services, information systems and cruise ship tourism. The Izmir-based firm currently has 57 offices, 14 in Turkey and 20 in other countries (mainly in the Mediterrranean region) and employs 6,500 people in Turkey and abroad in 62 different companies.
Talking about the biggest headache the shipping industry facing at the moment, Arkas thinks that ‘’overtonnaging has been and remains the most serious problem facing the industry in recent times”. He adds that “orderbook, especially for mega vessels, will not change foreseeably”.
He is directly involved in the container lines business since Arkas Group in 1996 founded EMES Shipping and Transport, first as a feeder operator and later as a liner service provider. In 2010, the name was changed to Arkas Container Transport and since then continues to provide services under the brand name Arkas Line that provides scheduled service in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and West Africa market.
Looking at the present market condition in southern Europe, Arkas underlines that “the Mediterrean region is under great pressure. Shrinking volumes coupled with cascading and overtonnaging point to difficult times ahead’’.
Today the Turkish shipping company’s fleet owns 42 vessels and is ranked 21st in the world container fleet ownership according to Clarkson’s. Arkas Line and EMES Feedering as of July 2015 operated 39 container ships, of which 30 are group-owned and 9 are managed. The Turkish company’s strategy on the S&P market has been quite aggressive in the near past as confirmed directly by Arkas.
“We have completed our programme for 2015 with the purchase of nine ships and in view of the general situation are adopting a wait and see policy,” he says.
The fleet also includes five bunker barges operated by the fully owned Arkas Bunkering founded in 2006 and active in refuelling services for vessels in many ports around the world, including the Mediterranean and Black Seas.
Besides all that, the group is also active in the container terminal business: in 2001 Arkas founded Marport, the first private container port in Turkey with an annual troughput capacity of 2m teu, and in 2008 it opened Autoport, the first and only dedicated car terminal in İzmir with an annual handling capacity of 350,000 vehicles.