HMM looks at regular Arctic liner services to Europe

Busan could get a whole lot closer to Rotterdam if Hyundai Merchant Marine’s (HMM) nascent Arctic ambitions gather pace.

The Korean flag carrier is looking at creating a regular liner service from Asia to Europe via the Arctic, with a trial run earmarked for 2020, according to local news outlet Pulse.

HMM is reportedly looking at using an icebreaker ahead of ice-class ships in the range of 2,500 to 3,500 teu on the route.

The current voyage time from Busan to Rotterdam via the Suez Canal takes 24 days, something HMM officials think could be cut to just 14 days via the Russian Arctic, giving ships a chance to match the fastest transit times offered by a new range of competing intercontinental freight train routes.

The route is currently available only for four months in the summer. However, as the ice melts around the polar caps, HMM believes the route could become possible year-round by 2030.

A spokesperson for HMM confirmed to Splash today that the company was reviewing Arctic voyages as a future business opportunity but cautioned nothing was definite yet.

HMM is not alone in eyeing the Arctic as a quicker passageway for freight between Asia and Europe.

China’s Cosco has been sending ships on exploratory missions through polar waters in recent years.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. This could be very interesting. Would shippers pay the required premium to ship their boxes on this faster (potentially much riskier) route than pay for the train?

Back to top button