Driven by a strong growth in the container volumes, the port of Antwerp recorded its best quarter ever with a freight volume of 58.3 million tonnes.
During the quarter ended March 31, the port’s total volume, which increased by 7.1% on the same period last year, was pushed by a 9.5% surge in the number of containers.
The container volume rose to 32.6 million tonnes, or 2.7 million TEU, with March alone setting a new record for container volume with 980,000 TEU.
There was growth on all sailing routes, both for imports and for exports. The progress made by European container freight was the most notable, expanding by 14.5%.
Container trade with North America for its part was up by 14.7% compared with the same period last year, although the first quarter of 2017 in this sector was rather weak. On Asian routes there was growth of 7%.
“The current growth figures of 9.5% in the container segment not only confirm the need for additional capacity but also make it clear that the operational capacity limit will soon be exceeded and that an expansion in container handling capacity will become necessary much sooner than originally planned,” Jacques Vandermeiren, Port Authority CEO, said.
The ro/ro volume expanded by 6% to 1.3 million tonnes, with the number of cars handled rising by 2.3% to 323,901 units.
However, conventional breakbulk performed less well compared with the same period last year, falling by 3.1% to 2.5 million tonnes.
Liquid bulk experienced an increase of 4.6% to 18.5 million tonnes. Dry bulk finished the quarter at 3.4 million tonnes, representing growth of 7.4%.