Interview: Nicolaj Noes, Managing Director, Maersk Line Australia


Papua New Guinea has a new shipping company which takes a different approach to servicing its customers. Nicolaj Noes, Australian Managing Director of global shipping company Maersk Line, talks to Business Advantage PNG.

Business Advantage PNG (BAPNG): Maersk is a global player in the shipping industry but you are a new entrant in the PNG market. How did this come about?

Nicolaj Noes-Maersk Line_web

Maersk’s Nicolaj Noes

Nicolaj Noes (NN): It was a case of Maersk Line spotting an opportunity, where the product we offer wasn’t that readily available in the PNG market.

We felt that PNG services were dominated by what we call a sort of a ‘semi-tramp’ approach, meaning that PNG was a stopover on services coming down from Asia and then maybe continuing out to other Pacific islands.

However, we also believed that, as PNG was maturing and the customers in its logistic chains were also maturing, there was suddenly a requirement for a different kind of service in container transportation in PNG.

So we said: let’s put PNG on a global network with a shuttle service that goes straight into an Asian hub (Malaysia, in our case), and try to differentiate ourselves as a more reliable service. By removing all the variations, we can really focus on servicing PNG and I think that has allowed us to have the best reliability in the market.

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BAPNG: How frequent are your services at present?

NN: Taking into account the operational constraints that we have in the ports here, the frequency is a little over two weeks.

BAPNG: What kind of customers are you are targeting?

NN: We target customers who put a premium on being able get a transparent service when placing an order from anywhere in the world. For example, goods like tools and spare parts are very well suited for containerisation. We’re targeting the kind of customer who says ‘I need to have that spare part on my shelves all the time. I cannot run out because the alternative is having to fly it in at great expense.’

In developing countries, it is not unusual for companies to need a stock factor of maybe six, seven, eight or nine weeks’ worth of sales, while in countries with more reliable supply chain they can get away with maybe a week or two’s worth of stock.

At the end of the day, someone has to pay for that extra stock—the end customer—so it becomes more costly as a country when you don’t have efficient logistics.