Despite Losses, Backers Of Cleveland-Antwerp Trade Route Push For An Additional Ship

The Fortunagracht (left) docked at the Port of Cleveland last April (pic: Brian Bull)
The Fortunagracht (left) docked at the Port of Cleveland last April (pic: Brian Bull)
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The Cleveland-Europe Express launched last April, with backers hoping the trans-Atlantic service would boost commerce and trade. But it’s already lost nearly $3 million, about five times more than projected.

A good time to double the bet, says Will Friedman, President of the Port Authority.

“What we found is that we really needed a sailing every two weeks to attract more containers to the service," says Friedman. "When we can get this second ship up and running, we think we’re gonna move it toward break even faster. So we have made an even larger investment, but we’re on good trajectory toward making this a sustainable service.”

Spliethoff Group, the Port's Belgian business partner, says it will cover the operating and maintenance costs of the second vessel.

Meanwhile, hopes ride high that the Cleveland-Europe Express will succeed, with long-ranging effects on labor as well as commerce. The Port of Cleveland already supports roughly 4,000 direct jobs.

“The longshoremen certainly will benefit most directly and most immediately by having a lot more work to do, loading and unloading," says Harriet Applegate, Executive Secretary of the North Shore AFL-CIO.

"Those cargo ships are one of the most exciting developments we’ve seen in a long time.”

The proposal to add another ship to the service will be likely taken up by the Port Authority board at its October or November meeting.

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