Chennai’s container terminals on India’s east coast are facing increasing market share losses to competitors, with the latest blow coming from a port call change by the IEX service. The IEX service will be switching calls from DP World Chennai to Adani’s Kattupalli port in December, due to an upfront joining bonus offer. BOT operators at Chennai are unable to match the incentives used by Adani-operated terminals to attract liner customers. Furthermore, HMM recently began calling on Kattupalli, and a joint service between MSC and CMA CGM has been added to Adani’s Ennore Terminal.
The IEX service, operated under a vessel sharing agreement led by Hapag-Lloyd, has significant cargo lifts out of Chennai, accounting for about 40% of DP World Chennai’s monthly throughput. However, with the port call change, Chennai’s business is expected to be confined to Far East and Middle East calls in the near future. Adani’s aggressive marketing approach is tilting the playing field.
While Kattupalli offers efficient infrastructure and capabilities for specialized cargo operations, pro-Chennai sources argue that it lacks adequate rail links for inland container depot cargo and shares highway access with Ennore, posing limitations and congestion risks as volumes increase.