Supported by increased container volumes, the port of Antwerp has set new records with the best half-year results ever.
During the first six months of 2018, the port handled 118.6 million tons of freight, a sharp increase of 6.5% compared with the same period last year. The container freight as the main driver experienced further rapid growth of 8.2% compared with the first six months of 2017.
The strong freight figures for the first quarter continued unabated in the second quarter. The container volume for its part rose by 8.2% to 66.3 million tons. In TEU, this indicates an increase of 8.3% to 5.6 million TEU. May was an all-time record month, with the port handling a peak container volume of more than 1 million TEU.
As informed, growth was experienced on all trade routes, both on the import and on the export side. Trade with Europe was the strongest, rising by 14.2%, thanks in part to Antwerp being able to win back transshipment freight which last year suffered a dip due to a temporary shortage of dock labor.
“The growth figures (…) confirm the previous forecasts that we will soon reach our maximum container capacity. During the past period we have well exceeded the optimum utilisation level for the terminals below the locks, which can have a negative impact on efficiency. We will therefore continue to emphasise the importance of having additional and commercially useful container capacity below the locks,” Jacques Vandermeiren, Port Authority CEO, commented.
“We appreciate the efforts of the Flemish government to arrive at a legally robust decision in favour of the complex project to build additional container capacity for our port. We now plead for a follow-up study of among other the nautical feasibility. Everybody stands to gain from a solution that will enable us to achieve the desired sustainable growth for our port (…) Creating additional commercially useful container capacity below the locks is a first step for us in the further development of the port,” Marc Van Peel, Port alderman, added.
Furthermore, the number of cars shipped through Antwerp grew by 1.4%. Together with the 6.5% rise in the number of utility vehicles, this resulted in a 5.2% growth in the total RoRo volume, to 2.7 million tons.
Conventional breakbulk for its part got off to a good start at the beginning of the year but then declined by 6.5% by the end of the first half of the year.
In addition, liquid bulk experienced very strong growth of 6.1% in the first six months of this year.
Dry bulk for its part expanded by 3.1% compared with the same period in 2017.
A total of 7,210 seagoing ships called at the port of Antwerp during the past six months, up 1% on the same period last year. The gross tonnage of the ships arriving in port rose by 0.3%, taking the total to nearly 208 million GT.