Despite positive signals from the Hamas camp for a Gaza ceasefire plan, Hapag-Lloyd does not foresee a return of merchant shipping to the Red Sea for the time being.

Hapag-Lloyd does not expect the industry to sail through the Suez Canal again in the short term, a spokesman for Germany's largest container shipping company said on Tuesday in response to an inquiry. "Even if there were to be a ceasefire now, this does not mean that the attacks by the Houthis will stop immediately." Large shipping companies have been avoiding the neighboring Suez Canal since mid-December due to attacks by Hamas-aligned rebels from Yemen on ships in the Red Sea. The detour via the southern tip of Africa causes delays and higher costs - but also increases freight rates, i.e. fees for ship transportation.

Before Hapag-Lloyd makes the decision to choose the route through the Suez Canal again, the passage must be safe, the spokesman continued. "The safety of the crews has top priority." If a passage through the Suez Canal is possible again, it will take at least four to six weeks until the schedules have been changed and operations are running normally again. Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jansen said just under a week ago that he still expected the situation in the Red Sea to ease before the end of the year. However, the company has repeatedly made it clear that it is very difficult to make a forecast on this issue for the entire industry.

On Tuesday, a Hamas representative signaled that the radical Islamists were ready for negotiations on the details of a UN resolution for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he saw signs of hope among Hamas with regard to the UN resolution.

The prospect of a rapprochement caused the shares of Hapag-Lloyd and the Danish shipping company Maersk to fall by five to six percent.

Maersk declined to comment on the latest development. Group CEO Vincent Clerc had said in February that Maersk needed a permanent solution in the Red Sea before it would consider returning its ships to the Middle East.

(Report by Elke Ahlswede; with assistance from Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, edited by Ralf Banser. If you have any queries, please contact our editorial team at (for politics and the economy) or (for companies and markets).)