STOCKHOLM (AFP) - Commercial shipping routes across the Arctic will not be a reality for at least a decade or two, the head of the world's biggest container line told the Financial Times on Monday.
Maersk chief executive Nils Andersen told the newspaper that an Arctic shortcut - expected to slash journey times between China and Europe - is "not something that will happen within the next 10 to 20 years."
The first commercial Chinese vessel recently sailed through the Northeast Passage, prompting speculation about a boom in Arctic shipping.
The shipping route north of Russia has been opened up by global warming and cuts thousands of miles - and about two weeks - off the journey from China, the world's biggest exporter, to its key European markets.
However it is currently only viable for commercial shipping for about four months a year when the polar ice melts enough to open up a safe route.
Icebreakers are nonetheless needed to assist the ships through the waters, rendering it a costly option.