MITSUI O.S.K. Lines is merging two group businesses to create what it claims will be the largest ferry and coastal ro-ro company in Japan.

MOL Ferry and Ferry Sunflower, the shipping line’s wholly owned ferry and coastal ro-ro operating companies respectively, are to merge on 1 October this year.

They will integrate under the MOL Ferry brand, but MOL plans to announce the name of the new company “as soon as it is determined”.

Initial plans for the new business include a general passenger liner service, coastal shipping, freight forwarding and travel agency.

MOL said in a statement on 13 February the integration aims to meet changes in customer transportation needs by concentrating the group companies’ management resources.

It also aims to accelerate MOL’s so-called Casual Cruise Concept, which is a vision of a high-quality means of passenger travel on regular ferry service routes.

MOL also intends to strengthen ties with local governments and communities in ferry departure and arrival areas, and contribute to regional revitalisation and local economies.

MOL Ferry was established in March 2001, and Ferry Sunflower in October 2011.