Container volume remained stable in Hamburg port

Lacking adjustment of the navigation channel on Outer and Lower Elbe leads a noticeable quantity of freight to other ports in the North Range

Container volume remained stable in Hamburg port

In the first six months of 2017 container throughput at 4.45 million TEU was at the previous year’s level. Throughput of loaded boxes at 3.8 million TEU (up 0.3 percent) reflected a positive trend. By contrast, handling of empty containers was 3.2 percent lower at 622,000 TEU.

‘Shipping companies tend to route empty boxes for weight reasons via other ports, partly because the adjustment of the Elbe fairway still not implemented, and mega-containerships still cannot be optimally loaded if calling at Hamburg. Once the channel is dredged, mega-ships will be able to bring additional 1,600 and more TEU to Hamburg and take that many again on departure,’ said Axel Mattern, Joint CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing, at the press conference.

From the port’s view, it is gratifying that the upward trend in container transport with China is being maintained. Especially large containerships are deployed on this trade, and 1.3 million TEU represented a 1.3 percent gain. Also on the up and up is Russia, the Port of Hamburg’s second most important market after China, with 225,000 TEU constituting a four percent advance despite the sanctions that remain in place unchanged.

In tough competition with other ports, container trades within Europe reached 1.3 million TEU, up by 1.3 percent. The main contributors to growth were the Baltic trades with countries such as Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, achieving a 12.9 percent advance to 255,000 TEU.

‘It is very interesting to see that the Port of Hamburg’s ten major container trade partners, accounting for around 60 percent of its container handling with 2.7 million TEU, recorded a 3.5 percent downturn, whereas the other countries achieved 5.3 percent growth to 1.8 million TEU. Vietnam was one of these, gaining attention with a double-digit growth; as a marketing organisation, we are focussing especially on the country by arranging delegation trips and developing the market,’ explained Mattern.

In general, the still not implemented adjustment of the navigation channel on Outer and Lower Elbe, as well as delays currently occurring in customs clearance of imports, is causing a noticeable quantity of freight to find its way via other ports in the North Range. ‘That is also most regrettable from the Hamburg angle, since had background conditions been better, a substantially more positive throughput balance for the first half would have been feasible. In the light of the throughput trend at non-German ports in the North Range, that once again clearly illustrates the urgent need to strengthen the Port of Hamburg’s competitiveness and performance,’ emphasised Mattern.

In the first six months of 2017, non-containerised general cargo throughput, of plant elements and wheeled cargoes for example, remained below the previous year’s, being down 11.7 percent at 720,000 tonnes. On the import side, down by 0.8 percent at 271,000 tonnes, growing throughput in the form of paper and metals imports failed to offset slight downturns for timber, citrus fruit and vehicles. Despatches of conventional general cargoes were down 17.2 percent at 449,000 tonnes, the mainly cause being lower exports of vehicles and steel.

At 70 million tons, first-half seaborne cargo throughput in Hamburg in 2017, including the general and bulk cargo segments, was 0.2 percent lower. Up by one percent at 23.5 million tonnes, bulk cargo throughput in Germany’s largest universal port continued to grow.

The Port of Hamburg is Germany’s largest universal port and guarantees more than 155,000 jobs in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. The port is also an important industrial base, and with added value totalling EUR 21.8 billion, it is of immense importance for the entire German national economy. For the whole of 2017, the Port of Hamburg’s marketing organisation reckons with seaborne cargo handling of 138 million tonnes and container throughput of around 8.9 million TEU.