The new feeder vessel, dubbed Balkan, started its operation between Baku International Sea Trade Port in Azerbaijan and International Seaport of Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan on Monday as part of efforts to minimize the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on trans-logistics services between Turkey and Central Asia.
The 120 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) container ship of the Turkmen merchant fleet is operated by Transport and Logistics Center of Turkmenistan and ADY Container, a subsidiary of Azerbaijan's national railway operator, Azerbaijan Railways.
“The Balkan ship, designed for cargo transportation through Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan, operates once a week,” ADY Container Director Natig Jafarov said in a statement issued by Azerbaijan Railways. “If the volume of cargo increases, the ship will be used twice a week.”
The railways operator said as part of the first stage of Balkan’s operation, cargo supplied from Turkey in trucks was converted into containers and loaded onto the feeder on April 13. The ship delivered a total of 62 containers, including 20, 40 and 45-feet freight containers to the port of Turkmenbashi. The 40 containers will be transported to Uzbekistan by transit through the territory of Turkmenistan.
The company added that at the next stage, containers via trains from Istanbul and the port of Mersin on the Mediterranean coast will be brought to the Baku Port, loaded on Balkan and other ships, and then transported to Central Asia.
The ADY Container Director said although the new feeder vessel service aims to alleviate the negative impact of COVID-19 on the cargo sector, the vessel could also operate even during the post-coronavirus period given the level of containerization.
During the extraordinary summit of the Turkic Council held in a videoconference format on Friday, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov outlined the necessity to ensure the stability of trade and economic ties, and transport links between the states in the current conditions.