New service model for King Island shipping an early success

The Bass Island Line (BIL) vessel, the John Duigan, has doubled the average number of TEUs carried per voyage since a new model of service was introduced by the vessel’s owners and operator TasPorts.

In December 2021 and January 2022, the average twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) carried was 22. After the new service model was introduced, that number grew to 53 for voyages in March and April 2022.

TasPorts CEO Anthony Donald said this was a clear demonstration that, though early in the life of the revised service model, customers were embracing the changes and utilising the service.

“The substantial increase in freight being moved by the BIL service is an excellent outcome,” he said.

“We are very pleased that our customers have responded so positively to the changes and are supporting the BIL service in this way.

“BIL will continue to work with our customers to ensure the delivery of a reliable and sustainable service.”

Mr Donald said BIL operations had endured significant financial pressure because of insufficient cargo levels leading to net losses for the business.

“A detailed review, with the aim of developing a more sustainable service long-term, was undertaken and a new model introduced,” he said.

“BIL is now offering a direct service between the Port of Grassy on King Island and the Port of Devonport, with a transhipment service to Victoria with SeaRoad Shipping.

“TasPorts invested $2.4 million at the Port of Devonport for the construction of a new multi-user RORO ramp, enabling the service to move its Tasmanian port from Bell Bay to Devonport.”

For background, the King Island Shipping Group wrote to TasPorts in April last year which included a request for an “essential” RORO vessel for the King Island shipping service.

It is also identified its preferred port on mainland Tasmania as Devonport.

Mr Donald said taking these factors into account, and again noting the improved performance of the service, BIL believed the new service structure better reflected the requirements of its customers.

After a review of freight costs as part of the broader service review, the price for transporting freight from King Island to Devonport was reduced, though transhipped freight incurred a price increase.

“BIL is working closely with the transhipper to ensure the timely movement of containers out of Melbourne,” Mr Donald said.

“It is important to provide some context to the price increase, noting also that the company is operating in a highly competitive market.

“Freight-related shipping charges have been impacted around the world because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Tasmania is not immune from these impacts, which by comparison to some price rises in other jurisdictions, would be considered relatively minor.

“Importantly, as issues have been raised with BIL, it has responded quickly.

“BIL encourages any customer to please contact it directly with issues or concerns that will be addressed in a timely manner.”