Matson Shipping has been forced to pull out one of its three ships scheduled to call into the Cook Islands due to “licensing issues”.
The shipping company earlier announced it would add Liloa II to their roster in a bid to deliver faster and efficient cargo service to the country.
Local agents and customers had been delighted with the announcement which would have seen three ships calling into the Cook Islands on a 10 day frequency.
It’s not yet clear who was responsible for the failure to process and approve the licence. According to industry sources, government delays processing the licence have forced the shipping company to remove Liloa II from the Cook Islands schedule, for now.
The Ministry of Transport, the agency responsible for issuing shipping licenses, would not comment except to indicate they would be in a better position today to speak publicly.
But CITC which owns Excil Shipping Limited, the local agent for Matson, said “delays in approval of the shipping licence” caused the Liloa II’s removal from the route.
CITC general manager Gaye Whitta said Matson applied last month for a licence to operate a third shipping vessel, which had not been approved.
In its January 8 schedule, Matson said Liloa II would call into Rarotonga on February 17 and Aitutaki on February 19. It was removed from the route this week, and ‘until further notice”.
“We will continue to serve the Cook Islands with Imua II and Olomana as scheduled,” Matson said.
Gaye Whitta said they were satisfied with the service provided by the existing two ships, but an additional vessel would have made shipping service into the country even better.
“It would be good to have a third ship servicing the Cook Islands as this would mean regular and efficient service, 10 day frequency as opposed to 14 days with two ships,” Whitta said.
But Atlas International Freight, in an email to customers, said there would be longer gaps now after Liloa II was pulled off the route.
Martin Brown from Atlas said: “The new schedule is different to what it was previously when we were used to a 14 day frequency with two ships.
“Next ship will be Olomana 117 closing at our depot (in New Zealand) for cargo receiving January 31. Imua II 76 will follow, sailing 10 days later and then there will be a 20 day gap to next sailing of Olomana.
“Frequencies will therefore be 10 days – 20 days – 10 days – 20 days between the two ships.”