Uncertainty for staff at Felixstowe office of South Korean shipping line Hanjin

South Korean shipping line Hanjin has filed for bankruptcy.

South Korean shipping line Hanjin has filed for bankruptcy. - Credit: Archant

Staff at the UK office of shipping line Hanjin in Felxistowe face an uncertain future amid the South Korean company’s collapse into bankruptcy.

But the failure of the firm, which ranks as the world’s seventh-largest shipper of containers, is unlikely to have a significant impact on operations at the Port of Felxistowe, with none of Hanjin’s own ships currently operating on routes calling at the port.

Hanjin, which has been trading at a loss, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday after its bankers withdrew their support. Shipping companies globally have been affected by a downturn in rates, with a slowdown in many major economies around the world having combined with the introduction of larger vessels to create over-capacity in the industry.

A number of Hanjin ships which were in port at the time of its collapse have been impounded while others are effectively stranded at sea, unable to put in to port due to the risk of being seized.

More than 500,000 containers currently in transit on Hanjin vessels now face delays, although the Korean athorities are likely to seek a prompt resolution to the situation.

The country’s second-largest shipping line, Hyundai Merchant Marine, has been linked with bid to acquire some of its rival’s assets, including profit-making vessels and routes and overseas business networks.

A spokesman for the Port of Felixstowe, the UK’s largest container port, said that, in line with its normal practice, the company would not comment on commercial matters.

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And an employee at the Hanjin office in Felixstowe said that nobody within the UK operation was authorised to talk about the situation facing the company.

However, with Hanjin vessels not currently calling at the Port of Felistowe – it’s UK container bookings being handled on ships operated by allied lines – the number of ships using the port will not be affected by the company’s collapse.

And any impact on the number of containers passing through the port is also likely to be limited, with the possibility of business currently handled by Hanjin passing to other members of the CKYHE alliance of which it is part, other members of which include Cosco, K Line, Yang Ming and Evergreen.