Hamburg loses ground to rivals due to delays caused by dredging of Elbe


THE German port of Hamburg's container volumes in the first half of 2017 at 4.45 million TEU remained flat compared to the previous year, while delays surrounding the expansion of the Elbe fairway continue to cost the European gateway market share.

Both Antwerp and Rotterdam ports - the latter has overtaken Hamburg as Europe's second-busiest container port - registered year-on-year volume growth in the first half of the year of 9.4 per cent to 6.66 million TEU, and of 1.8 per cent to 5.14 million TEU, respectively.

Hamburg's joint chief executive of marketing, Axel Mattern, pointed to a 3.2 per cent drop in empties as one area where the failure to dredge and widen the Elbe was reducing the port's traffic, reported London's Loadstar.

"Shipping companies tend to route empty boxes for weight reasons via other ports, partly because the adjustment of the Elbe fairway is still not implemented," Mr Mattern was quoted as saying.

"Once the channel is dredged, mega-ships will be able to bring an additional 1,600 [plus] TEU to Hamburg and take that many again on departure."

Despite declines from seven of the port's top 10 trading partners, Mr Mattern was pleased with Chinese and Russian numbers, describing the volume growth as "gratifying".

Chinese volumes rose 1.3 per cent to 1.29 million TEU, while Russian figures increased four per cent to 230,000 TEU; and Swedish volumes jumped 9.8 per cent to 140,000 TEU.

Overall though, these results were not enough to offset a 3.5 per cent decline among its top 10 trading partners to 2.65 million TEU from 2.75 million TEU last year.

Three years of back-to-back growth in the number of ultra-large containerships calling at Hamburg, was piling on the pressure to advance the dredging and widening of the Elbe.

In the first six months of the year, 54 vessels in the 18,000-20,000+ TEU range called at Hamburg, a 134.8 per cent increase compared to last year, while vessels in the 14,000-17,900 TEU range called 36.5 per cent more times than in 2016.

In February, Leipzig's Federal Administrative Court finally rubber-stamped the Elbe deepening project, after environmental protests brought the project to a standstill in 2013.

Despite receiving the court's approval, the stop work order issued four years ago remains in place, with the port first having to address two major environmental concerns.

Source: Schendet 

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