Bremen, 29 January 2009 +++ For the first time in its corporate history, the EUROGATE Group has exceeded the 14-million mark. In 2008, the company handled 14.2 million standard containers (TEUs) Europe-wide – 2.3 per cent more than in the previous year – and a record result. In Bremerhaven, EUROGATE increased its container volumes by 12.4 per cent to 5.5 million TEUs (2007: 4.9 million TEUs). In Hamburg, volumes declined by 7.7 per cent to 2.7 million TEUs (2007: 2.9 million TEUs). Germany-wide, EUROGATE therefore notched up 8.2 million TEUs altogether, 4.9 per cent more than in the previous year (2007: 7.8 million TEUs). Just because of some extraordinary events in Cagliari, the Italian holding, Contship Italia, posted a slightly lower handling volume than in 2007 with 5.7 million TEUs, a drop of 2.1 per cent (2007: 5.8 million TEUs). For the first time, containers were also handled in Tangier (Morocco). By year’s end, the EUROGATE Tanger terminal, which took up operations in stages from October 2008, had handled 64,000 TEUs.
Signs of an impending economic crisis had already begun to cloud the horizon in the 2008 record year. Year-end trade, traditionally the busiest period of the year, failed to materialise in December. The container terminals in Bremerhaven handled 4.3 per cent fewer and the EUROGATE Container Terminal Hamburg even 9.8 per cent fewer “boxes” than in the previous year’s reference period. The Italian terminal facilities, by contrast, recorded an increase of 12.9 per cent. This good result can be attributed to new customers at the Cagliari International Container Terminal (CICT), the Grand Alliance consortium and the shipping line UASC.
Make the best out of our opportunities to enable us to emerge strengthened from the economic crisis
“All container terminals are currently feeling the pinch of the economic crisis”, says Emanuel Schiffer, Chairman of the EUROGATE Group Management Board. “The shipping industry is going through choppy seas and we have no way of know¬ing how profound and how prolonged the present situation is likely to be. For 2009 we are expecting a single-digit drop in volumes. But we are neverthe¬less optimistic with regard to long-term container traffic development. For this reason, we are adhering to our major investment projects such as the new container terminal in Wilhelmshaven, westward expansion in Hamburg and upgrad¬ing of Berth 3 in Hamburg. In the interim, however, we must prove our¬selves weather-resistant so as not to jeopardise the long-term projects. That means cost savings and flexibilisation of work. Short-term investments are being postponed. We must make the best out of our opportunities to enable us to emerge strengthened from the crisis.”
“Dedicated terminals” generated double-digit growth rates in Bremerhaven
The policy of so-called “dedicated terminals”, i.e. terminals for individual shipping-lines, proved successful for Bremerhaven in 2008. Thanks to this strategy, the container port generated double-digit growth. The NTB “dedicated terminal” showed growth of 12.1 per cent, MSC Gate as much as 33.9 per cent. Bremerhaven also profited from various shipping routes, for example to South America or South Africa. However, towards the end of the year, the economic crisis was also becoming increasingly noticeable in Bremerhaven, recently reflected in a substantial drop in container handling activities.
Weak Far-East traffic led to lower volumes in Hamburg
At the EUROGATE Container Terminal Hamburg, a downward trend was noticeable from mid-2008 on. Cargo volumes on the Far East – Europe shipping routes gradually nosedived. A number of events in China led to fewer goods being transported to and from Europe. This became increasingly noticeable in November and December.
Shipping lines are reducing transport capacities
The restructuring measures undertaken by shipping companies in the wake of the financial and economic crisis have impacted container handling. Shipping rates and cargo volumes have fallen sharply. Carriers are reducing their transport capacities by anchoring vessels in the roadstead and by cutting or consolidating scheduled services. This development is in the meantime not only making itself felt at the container terminal in Hamburg, but increasingly in Bremerhaven as well.
The shipping industry is traditionally at the mercy of economic cycles. However, EUROGATE is a company with sound foundations and is taking an optimistic view of the medium- to long-term development.
Detailed information will be presented at the EUROGATE annual press conference which is to be held on 14 April 2009 at the Park Hotel in Bremen. Invitations will be sent out in due time.