First direct China-Scotland shipping route begins

The new shipping route has been hailed as a „game changer for Scotland“.

The Allseas Pioneer arrived in Greenock from Ningbo in China earlier, carrying containers of textiles, furniture and toys for sale in Scotland.

The direct sailings will reduce freight transit times, compared to services via Europe or southern UK ports.

Six ships – each capable of carrying about 1,600 shipping containers – will operate on the route, which was established as a response to growing global supply chain pressures.

The new service with three sailings per month in each direction is expected to cut the journey time from about 60 days to an estimated 33 by eliminating unscheduled port congestion delays in Rotterdam.

Greenock Ocean Terminal, which opened in 1969, is currently responsible for the handling of 100,000 containers a year

Jim McSporran of Peel Ports, which operates the Clydeport in Greenock – Scotland’s deepest container terminal, said it was „great to finally welcome this vital service“.

He said: „We believe this partnership will prove to be a hugely positive development for businesses and customers, as well as boosting the wider supply chain, and we look forward to continuing to work with our partners on this service in the coming months.“

The direct link between the two countries was established in a partnership between KC Liner Agencies, DKT Allseas and China Xpress.

David Milne, KC Group Shipping managing director, said the company has been „amazed at the level of immediate interest“ in the route.

He said they needed the support of Scottish importers and exporters to „safeguard the long-term future“ of the new service.

„Our direct trading link to China cuts through frustrating transhipment delays, which is a massive boost for Scottish businesses and can only help consumers in these difficult times,“ he said.

„I described this as a game changer for Scotland, and the uptake in the service is certainly proving that case, for Scotland’s furniture, pharmaceuticals, packaging and spirits sectors.“

Cllr Stephen McCabe, leader of Inverclyde Council, said the new route was a „ringing endorsement of Greenock and Inverclyde as an important location for exports, imports and visitors“.

He added: „The freight side of Greenock Ocean Terminal can often be overshadowed and sometimes forgotten about because of the busy cruise ship schedule.

„But the container shipping side of the terminal has also grown substantially in recent years, and the new Glasgow City Region cruise ship visitor centre development, including the dedicated cruise ship pontoon, has created more capacity for both container and passenger vessels to aid the continued growth of both markets and further boost the economy locally, regionally and nationally.“

Greenock is also part of the Clyde Green Freeport bid.