Top Cargo and Freight Companies in Greenland: A Detailed Comparison

Top Cargo and Freight Companies in Greenland
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Greenland’s economy relies heavily on exports of fish and shellfish. As over 90% of Greenland’s exports are shipped out by sea, having reliable and cost-effective cargo transportation is essential for businesses operating in Greenland.

In the realm of cargo shipping services in Greenland, a select few major players dominate the scene. This article offers an in-depth comparison of the top cargo and freight forwarders in Greenland, shedding light on their services, capabilities, and key features. Stay informed and make well-informed decisions with our comprehensive analysis of the leading players in the industry. Explore the best options for your shipping needs with our guide to the Top Cargo and Freight Companies in Greenland.

Overview of the Top Cargo and Freight Companies in Greenland

Here is a quick overview of the major cargo service providers in Greenland:

CompanyHeadquartersMain Service Areas
Royal Arctic LineNuuk, GreenlandDomestic and international sea freight, warehousing
Air Greenland CargoNuuk, GreenlandAir freight
Blue Water ShippingEsbjerg, DenmarkInternational sea and air freight
Sarfaq Ittuk (Arctic Umiaq Line)Nuuk, GreenlandCoastal community freight services

While sea transport handled by Royal Arctic Line dominates cargo transit in and out of Greenland, air freight handled by Air Greenland Cargo plays a key role for time-sensitive or smaller volume shipments.

International freight forwarders like Blue Water Shipping partner with the major domestic carriers to arrange end-to-end transport of cargo to and from Europe.

For freight services connecting coastal communities within Greenland, Sarfaq Ittuk (Arctic Umiaq Line) provides reliable transportation.

Now let’s take a deeper look at each of Greenland’s major cargo service providers.

Royal Arctic Line – Dominant Player for Greenland’s International Sea Freight

Top Cargo and Freight Companies in Greenland
Credit: olli0815/iStock

Royal Arctic Line (RAL) is Greenland’s main cargo shipping company, transporting nearly all of the country’s exports and the majority of imports. Owned by the Self Rule Government of Greenland, it operates a fleet of 3 cargo vessels.

Some key facts about Royal Arctic Line:

  • Headquartered in Nuuk with offices across Greenland
  • Services 3 main Arctic port routes connecting Greenland to Europe and North America
  • Owns ~75,000 m2 of warehousing capacity in Greenland
  • Employs 340 staff
  • Transports over 300,000 freight tons per year

As Greenland’s national shipper, RAL provides regular liner services between the main towns on the west coast and in north-east Greenland, as well as container feeder services linking to Denmark and other European ports directly.

Main services offered by RAL include:

  • Domestic coastal shipping and port-to-port transport
  • Warehousing and storage
  • Customs clearance
  • Door-to-port export handling
  • North Atlantic and European shipping connectivity

RAL operates special reefer containers equipped with heating/cooling technology to safely transport Greenland’s fish and seafood exports. They have weekly departures to key European transshipment hubs like Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Hamburg, and Aarhus.

Through partnerships with carriers like Seatrade, RAL provides connectivity to ports in the Americas and Asia as well.

For most businesses involved in Greenland’s export industries like commercial fishing and mining, RAL would be the main transport provider used. Their leadership, experience, route coverage, and warehousing capabilities make them a trusted partner for cargo shipping to, from, and within Greenland.

Air Greenland Cargo – Key Provider of Air Freight Services

Top Cargo and Freight Companies in Greenland
Credit: iStock

Air Greenland operates air freight and logistics services connecting Greenland to Denmark and Iceland. It owns the most comprehensive air transport network in Greenland comprising short and long-haul aircraft.

Some background on Air Greenland Cargo:

  • Wholly owned by the Self Rule Government of Greenland
  • Main air cargo terminal located at Kangerlussuaq (SFJ), Greenland’s international hub
  • Additional cargo terminals at Narsarsuaq and Nuuk
  • Weekly Boeing 757 passenger + cargo flights to/from Copenhagen
  • Extensive domestic feeder flight network across Greenland
  • IATA CEIV Pharma certified for pharmaceutical shipments

For perishable seafood exports like prawns and halibut, Air Greenland provides important capacity for frozen and refrigerated air freight. This allows small volume / high value seafood shipments to reach markets faster.

In addition to cargo aircraft, Air Greenland transports cargo in the belly holds of its passenger flights. This Combination airline service offers cargo space on over 25 domestic routes to isolated communities relying on air access.

Read Also: How to Transfer Cargo to Ship in Starfield

Time sensitive shipments like pharmaceuticals and electronics also frequently move through Air Greenland’s temperature controlled infrastructure compliant with IATA’s CEIV pharma certification standards.

So in summary, Air Greenland Cargo provides:

  • Air export/import freight between Greenland and Europe
  • Connectivity to markets in North America and Asia via transfers
  • Domestic air feeder connectivity for cargo transfer
  • Specialized temperature controlled shipping solutions

Businesses involved in shrimp exports, specialty fish trawling, electronics distribution, and healthcare products tend to make up much of Air Greenland Cargo’s core customer base.

Blue Water Shipping – International Freight Forwarding Services

Blue Water Shipping (BWS) is an international freight forwarding and logistics company headquartered in Esbjerg, Denmark. They have over a decade’s experience arranging transport of cargo between Greenland and overseas ports.

Here is some background on their capabilities related to cargo shipping involving Greenland:

  • Part of the Maersk logistics arm
  • 450+ employees worldwide with deep trade lane experience
  • Licensed customs broker and consolidator
  • Warehousing partnerships along key transshipment routes
  • Longstanding partnership with Royal Arctic Line

Blue Water arranges end-to-end cargo transport to destinations worldwide involving trucking, warehousing, customs clearance, ocean/air freight and more.

They don’t own any ships but have preferential contracts with ocean carriers like Maersk, CMA CGM, and Hapag-Lloyd providing advantageous rates and priority booking access. These partnerships allow Blue Water to transport cargo in refrigerated containers optimized for Greenland’s exports like seafood and fish.

Services offered include:

  • Customs clearance and trade compliance consulting
  • Ocean freight bookings and rate negotiation
  • Air freight bookings with priority capacity
  • Warehousing/storage at major transit hubs
  • Overland trucking to inland destinations
  • Supply chain optimization – route/mode decision analysis
  • Consolidated shipping solutions

The end-to-end shipment oversight and trade lane experience makes Blue Water an efficient option for Greenland’s importers/exporters wanting seamless transportation coordinated by a single player.

Read Also: How to Manage Full Cargo Capacity in Starfield

Businesses importing consumer goods and construction materials or exporting seafood and minerals beyond Royal Arctic Line’s direct European coverage can benefit from Blue Water’s worldwide reach.

Sarfaq Ittuk (Arctic Umiaq Line) – Connecting Greenland’s Coastal Communities

Sarfaq Ittuk, also known as Arctic Umiaq Line, provides dedicated freight shipping and passenger transport services for communities along Greenland’s west coast. It helps meet the logistics needs of remote towns not serviced by Air Greenland or Royal Arctic Line.

Background details on Sarfaq Ittuk:

  • Joint venture between Royal Arctic Line (65%) & five municipalities
  • Operations hub based in Ilulissat
  • Serves 13 villages from Qasigiannguit in the north to Nanortalik in the south
  • Owns and charters a fleet of 3 cargo vessels
  • Employs ~100 staff during summer months

As many smaller settlements in north and west Greenland lack port infrastructure for RAL’s larger ships, Sarfaq Ittuk meets a vital transport need. With specially designed landing craft vessels and inflatable boats, they provide cargo lighterage, transshipment services, and passenger transport customized for each village port.

Services offered include:

  • Community re-supply from main warehouses
  • Transportation of cargo to/from Royal Arctic Line vessels
  • Charter transport options for industrial operators
  • Crane lifting capabilities for special equipment
  • Temporary storage in local warehouses
  • Transport of dangerous goods and specialized project shipments

Sarfaq Ittuk helps ensure critical staples like food, household supplies, construction materials and fuel make it into remote villages. Additionally they provide connectivity for inshore fishing operators and coastal industry to ship produce and transport personnel along a route network unmatched by any other operator.

The company is also experienced in supporting energy, mining, and infrastructure projects through tailored shipping charters. Key clients include government entities, retailers, fishing enterprises, and major industry players operating in Greenland’s more isolated northern and western regions.

Comparing the Major Cargo Carriers in Greenland

CompanyOwnershipMain ServicesNetwork ScopeVessel Fleet SizeTarget Customers
Royal Arctic LineGovernment ownedInt’l shipping, Domestic feedering, WarehousingDirect services to Europe, Connections to Americas/Asia via transhipment3 cargo vessels + chartered shipsExporters (seafood, minerals), wholesalers & retailers, industrial operators
Air Greenland CargoGovernment ownedAir freight, Domestic air feederingCopenhagen direct + regional connections via transfer5 dedicated cargo planes + 11 passenger aircraft (belly capacity)Seafood exporters, electronics & pharma shippers, oil/gas and mining support
Blue Water ShippingPrivateFreight forwarding, Customs brokerage, Trade consultingWorldwide coverage via partner networkNo owned assets. Contracts capacity with shipping lines, airlines.Any importer/exporter requiring transport management and trade compliance expertise
Sarfaq IttukJoint venture with govt ownershipCoastal community cargo feedering, fuel resupply, Industrial point-point chartering13 villages across NW and W Greenland3 cargo ships + chartered landing craft and boatsGovernment entities, retailers, fishing companies, remote industry operators

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which shipping company is best to export seafood from Greenland?
For most seafood exporters in Greenland, Royal Arctic Line would be the main transport partner used given their purpose-built reefer containers and direct Europe links. Air Greenland Cargo offers faster transit times albeit with less capacity for high volume shipments.

How much does it cost to ship by sea freight out of Greenland?
As a baseline, Royal Arctic Line quotes around DKK 2500 (USD 340) per cubic meter for refrigerated container cargo from Greenland to ports like Rotterdam. So a full 20 ft reefer container would cost around USD 17,000 one-way. Rates vary considerably though based onexact destination, volume, seasonality etc so best to request an actual quote.

What kind of warehouses and storage do these companies offer?
Royal Arctic Line has the most widespread warehousing presence across Greenland with dedicated cold storage and general cargo facilities. They offer both short term and long term storage arrangements in temperature controlled buildings. Air Greenland Cargo, Blue Water Shipping, and Sarfaq Ittuk have more limited warehouse offerings focused mostly around ports and hubs.

Does shipping cargo within Greenland require customs clearance formalities?
Domestic cargo movements within Greenland do not require formal customs clearance processes typically associated with international shipments. However, shipments involving specialized goods may still need inspections and paperwork filing. Checking directly with Royal Arctic Line or Air Greenland Cargo for specific shipment needs is advised.

Which company offers the most storage space?
By a large margin, Royal Arctic Line has the most storage space spread across Greenland. They own an estimated 75,000 cubic meters of warehousing compared to just a few thousand cubic meters operated by each of the other logistics companies. The sheer scope of Royal Arctic Line’s purpose-built cargo warehousing cement them as a leader in domestic distribution and freight consolidation in Greenland.

What shipping company serves the most ports in Greenland?
Again, Royal Arctic Line serves the highest number of direct destinations given their comprehensive network calling on all major towns along Greenland’s west coast in addition to select communities in the far north-east. For isolated villages reliant on coastal feeder services, Sarfaq Ittuk (Arctic Umiaq Line) calls on the highest number of communities via their specially designed landing craft and small boats. Air Greenland would rank second serving around 25 domestic towns with air freight belly capacity.

I hope this detailed yet reader-friendly article provides helpful insight into selecting a logistics partner to meet sea, air, domestic, or international cargo transportation needs in Greenland. Please feel free to inquire if any additional questions come up!

Advertorial: This post contains sponsored content, advertisements, or affiliate links. Read our full advertorial disclosure here.

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