Container handling 2020: Comparison of the three busiest ports in Europe

Container handling 2020: Comparison of the three busiest ports in Europe

1. March 2021

In a year as challenging as 2020, also the three busiest ports in Europe felt the Corona crisis strongly in the first half of the year. Nevertheless, they were partly able to catch up in the second half. Antwerp even surpassed the 12 million TEU mark for the first time and grew by 1.3% in 2020. Total cargo throughput nevertheless fell by 3.1 percentage points to 231 million tons of cargo.

At the Port of Hamburg, the effects of the lockdown in China were particularly evident in the 2nd quarter. After all, China is their largest trading partner. In 2018 alone, Germany’s largest seaport handled around 2.6 million standard containers (TEU) in China traffic. One in three containers originates from China or is shipped there. As a result, seaborne cargo throughput in Q2 was 16.2% lower than in the same quarter of the previous year. In the third quarter, the situation improved so that there was only a minus of 8% compared to the previous year. In the fourth quarter, it was even possible to catch up to such an extent that the 4th quarter showed a plus of 3 percentage points in seaborne cargo throughput compared to 2019. Container handling was only 1.2% below the comparable figure of the previous year.

The Port of Rotterdam also felt the effects of the lockdown in China strongly. As a result, container handling here also developed very erratically. After the virus spread worldwide, demand for goods fell sharply. In a press release the Port of Rotterdam explained that since summer, however, volumes have recovered strongly as consumers have spent their money mainly on physical goods and less on services.

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