A revamped shipping service from Port Chalmers will carve up to seven days off transit times for Otago and Southland exporters, shipping line MSC says.MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) has shuffled one of its four weekly New Zealand services to include Port Otago as the final port of call before Asia.

The new service began last week.Freight carrier MSC Alabama departed port on Wednesday as the second ship in the revamped Kiwi Express service.The service called into Auckland, Nelson, Wellington and Lyttelton before Port Chalmers.

It would then sail to Australia and global hubs in Singapore and Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia.

MSC’s northbound Capricorn Service from Bluff to Tauranga no longer calls into Port Chalmers.Both services connect New Zealand and Australia with Asia.

The change came as international shipping lines faced continual disruptions to schedules, as the Otago Daily Times reported on Tuesday.

MSC New Zealand general manager Steve Wright said quicker transit times were significant, given Port Chalmers’ high volume of chilled and frozen product.

“This part of the country produces some high-quality meat that is enjoyed throughout the world, and with MSC being able to ship this great local produce to international markets even faster, we believe it will be of real benefit to the region’s exporters,” Mr Wright said.

“Speed to market is everything.”

The region’s exporters would enjoy faster transit times to Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern and European markets with MSC, he said.

Three ship services — Maersk, Hamburg Sud and MSC — usually came into Port Chalmers every week.

The Otago Daily Times reported this week that shipping lines had been blanking — missing ports — to get back in cycle.

MSC had stopped calling at Port Chalmers for four consecutive weeks last year, Port Otago chief executive Kevin Winders said.

Maersk was changing port rotations and adding services to move containers stranded in the North Island to exporters in the South Island.

Port Otago commercial manager Craig Usher said Port Chalmers moving from the Capricorn to the Kiwi Express service improved reliability for exporters, with vessels arriving from nearby Lyttelton Port.

“Otago Harbour’s deep draught enables MSC to maximise loading with us as a last port of call,” Mr Usher said.