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Port of Hamburg: Slight recovery for container handling

Monday, 20 November 2023 | 17:00

Handling in the universal Port of Hamburg continues to be impacted by national and global operating conditions. Despite these circumstances, container throughput in the port has been able to recover in the third quarter. In addition, the number of ship calls has increased. In particular, the container trades between Hamburg and the USA underline this trend with a record result. Over and above this, the Asia trade has grown once again in the third quarter. In line with the positive developments during the quarter, hinterland transport has shown a slight recovery: Whereas, transhipment services continue to be influenced by international operating conditions. Just what influence these results will have over the whole year cannot yet be quantified.

Outstanding third quarter
Container handling in the Port of Hamburg grew by 2.4% to two million TEU in comparison with the same period in the previous year. “This result is albeit only a part of the total picture, but shows that container throughput in the Port of Hamburg is going through a period of recovery,” stated Axel Mattern, CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing – HHM. “With a view to the North Range ports, we shall be the only one showing a positive result for container handling in the third quarter. This shows that we are able to increase our market share.” However, over the first nine months, in comparison with the same period of the previous year, with 5.84 million TEU, the Port of Hamburg recorded a downturn of 7.4%. As a reminder, in the first half of the year the downturn in container throughput stood at 11.7%.

In total, during the period from January to September 2023, the companies in the Hamburg port economy handled 86.6 million tons of seagoing cargo. This represents a 5.6% reduction over the same period in the previous year. Over the same period, bulk cargo throughput at 27.4 million tons and a minimal reduction of – 0.3% remained at virtually the same level.

USA trades with record result
With container handling at 171,000 TEU the USA trade did not only reach a new quarterly record volume: Growth accelerated once again. Whereas, in the first half year it stood at 7.4%, over the first three quarters at 483,000 TEU, it already stood at 9.4%.

Asia trade recovering
The Asia trade that is so important for Hamburg, recovered in the third quarter of 2023 by 7.8% in comparison with the same quarter of the previous year. Worth mentioning here is container handling with China, which rose by 8.8% during the third quarter. When considering the first nine months of this year, container throughput with Asia, at 3 million TEU, is 6.7% down on the same period last year.

Number of ship calls has risen
More vessels are calling in the Port of Hamburg. In the first nine months, more than 3,500 ships with a container-carrying capacity were welcomed. This represents an increase of 1.8% over the same period of the previous year. When broken down into individual size categories, it shows that in the first nine months, especially, the number of Very-Large Containerships and the classic Panamax calling in the Port of Hamburg have increased by around one third. In addition, the number of calls by Megamax containerships with more than 24,000 TEU increased further. Overall, 204 vessels from this category called in the Port of Hamburg, representing an increase of 17.9% in comparison with the same period in the previous year.

Hinterland transport remains stable
During the first three quarters, the Port Railway transported around 1.9 million TEU, meaning that the drop during the first half of the year has partially recovered; now lying with -4.7% within the expected range. Across all modes of transport, in the first three quarters 3.9 million TEU were handled. This represents a slight reduction of 3.4%. In transhipment services, a downturn of 14.5% and throughput of 1.9 million TEU in the first nine months of the year are shown to be volatile.
The result for container handling in the third quarter is a positive signal. “Just to what extent this may positively influence the annual result is however not yet foreseeable, since the ongoing challenging geo-political operating conditions and the once again reduced expectation for economic growth in Germany for this year, prevent any concrete statement,” states Mattern analytically.
Source: Port of Hamburg

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