Icelandic officials are considering an appeal over Eimskip-Royal Arctic Line partnership

The complaint comes after competition authorities had granted a temporary exemption to anti-trust regulations.

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Collaborating with Eimskip is part of a Royal Arctic Line strategy that includes no longer using a Danish port as its hub. (Port of Aalborg)

A decision by the Icelandic competition authority to approve a vessel-sharing agreement between that country’s Eimskip and Royal Arctic Line has been appealed by Samskip, an Icelandic competitor to Eimskip.

The appeal comes after Samkeppniseftirlitið in April gave its conditional blessing to the 2016 agreement that would see Eimskip and Royal Arctic Line pool capacity on service between Iceland and Greenland.

In approving the agreement, Samkeppniseftirlitið acknowledged that the deal violated the terms of Icelandic anti-trust regulations. However, it provided an exemption until 2024, on the condition that the two firms could provide proof they were not colluding to drive up rates to and from Iceland.

As part of the partnership, the two firms are building three polar-class container vessels that will be the largest in the two firms’ fleets. The ships are intended to serve Greenland and other North Atlantic ports and are expected to be delivered later this year.

[Greenland shipper won’t be allowed out of Danish port contract early]

The appeal will not affect construction of the ships or other plans to begin joint service in December. However, a successful challenge to the partnership would be a setback in Royal Arctic Line’s efforts to overhaul cargo services to Greenland.

An important element of that is a decision to stop routing all Royal Arctic Line cargo through the port of Aalborg, Denmark. Instead, Royal Arctic Line plans to ship cargo to and from multiple ports.

In a statement, Eimskip described Samskip’s appeal as “unsubstantiated.” Royal Arctic Line, meanwhile, said it believed Samkeppniseftirlitið’s original decision would stand, and that it would continue preparations to begin offering service to Iceland.

Samkeppniseftirlitið has six weeks to reply to Samskip’s appeal.