Hamburg port loses ground due to hold up of crucial River Elbe dredging

THE 2018 container throughput at the Port of Hamburg dropped for the second year in a row to 8

22 February 2019 - 19:00

THE 2018 container throughput at the Port of Hamburg dropped for the second year in a row to 8.73 million TEU, stressing the need to speed River Elbe dredging to allow mega ship access.

That said, volumes declined by just one per cent year-on-year. However, rival north European ports Rotterdam and Antwerp experienced strong growth last year.

Indeed, Hamburg's container traffic has fallen 10 per cent since 2014 when its container facilities saw 9.7 million TEU pass through its gates.

The Benelux ports increased their market share last year - mainly at the expense of Hamburg - with Antwerp recording 5.2 per cent growth to 11.1 million TEU, and Rotterdam registering a 5.7 per cent expansion to 14.5 million TEU, reported London's Loadstar.

Port of Hamburg marketing chief executive Ingo Egloff said: 'Adjustment of the fairway will not just simplify calls in Hamburg for shipowners, but will also permit handling of larger volumes. Extra draught and an improved situation for passing on the Elbe will also facilitate better use of transport capacity on their ships.'

The two-year project to dredge the lower and outer sections of the river Elbe to a depth of 13.5 metres and the construction of a 385-metre passing point for vessels would enable ships calling at Hamburg to exchange an extra 1,800 TEU per port call.

Hamburg's Economics and Transport Minister Michael Westhagemann said: 'We shall be implementing the project as swiftly as possible and hope that no delays will arise.'

He confirmed that he would be travelling to Asia early next month to 'personally brief our port customers and to showcase the location.'

'I shall naturally also be visiting our clients in Europe,' said the minister. 'I want to express my thanks that shipping companies have remained loyal to us for decades. But I also want to tell them just what Hamburg has to offer with its port.'

Mr Egloff also said the shipping alliances were prepared to make Hamburg the first discharge and last loading port on services, once the fairway work had been completed.

Hamburg is celebrating winning four transatlantic liner services from THE Alliance, which could add up to 500,000 TEU to its throughput volumes.

However, Rotterdam and Antwerp also benefited last year from the IT disruption at the UK port of Felixstowe when the UK's biggest container gateway embarked on a troubled implementation of its in-house-developed NextGen terminal operating system in June.

One local source told Loadstar it had been 'like a cyber-attack had hit the port,' adding that at one stage stowage plans were having to be drawn up with pen and paper. Consequently, many ships were obliged to cut and run and carry UK imports to Rotterdam and Antwerp.


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