Mattern stressed that container volumes in Hamburg are based on a very differing throughput trend for Hamburg’s two major container terminal operators in the first half. ‘Here one company was able to profit considerably better than the other from the very extensive changes so far implemented on container liner services.
These caused shifts in market shares in Hamburg. Alterations in shipping company alliances and schedules often make an impact on throughput volumes and container terminal utilization in the ports. In addition, fresh container handling capacities in the Western ports being put on the market for the first time cause volume increases as they come on stream, and then at the expense of other ports make a one-time impact reflected in their first-half results,’ added Mattern.
Other factors, however, also had an influence on the volume trend for Hamburg’s container throughput in the first half. For example, 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,’ emphasized Mattern.
In the first six months of 2017 container throughput at 4.45 million TEU (20-ft standard containers) 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. ‘That shipping companies tend to route empty boxes for weight reasons via other ports is partly because with the adjustment of the Elbe fairway still not implemented, 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 containers (TEU) to Hamburg and take that many again on departure’, said Mattern.
With bulk cargo handling in Hamburg, totalling 23.5 million tons and up by 1.0 percent in the first half, trends for imports and exports differed. On the import side, a first-half total of 16.8 million tons meant a 1.3 percent downturn. Among exports, bulk cargo throughput was very strong at 6.7 million tons, up by 7.4 percent.
The fall in imports was caused by a 10.3 percent drop in throughput of suctions goods to 1.9 million tons, and one of 9.5 percent to 4.9 million tons in throughput of liquid cargoes. Among the reasons were above-average throughput volumes there in the comparable period the previous year, which in the first half of 2017 again settled down at a normal level. Up by 5.6 percent at 10.0 million tons, in the first half the grab cargo segment remained the Port of Hamburg’s strongest bulk cargo handling area. Imports of coal & coke at 3.9 million tons (up 7.4 percent) and of ore at 5.2 million tons (up 4.0 percent) were above the previous year’s. Steeper demand from power stations and the stel industry caused the higher throughput. At 6.7 million tons (up 7.4 percent), bulk cargo exports developed positively. Trends differed in the various segments. A harvest-related fall in grain exports, down 8.9 percent at 1.9 million tons, pushed these below the previous year’s total. Export throughput was higher for liquid cargoes, up 27.5 percent at 2.2 million tons, and for the grab cargo segment, 8.5 percent ahead at 2.0 million tons.