Throughput of containers at Hamburg fell 1% year on year to 8.73m teu in 2018, compared with strong growth achieved at rival North European hubs Rotterdam and Antwerp. Local commentators said that the numbers added urgency to the planned dredging of the River Elbe to increase the port’s draught.
Hamburg’s container throughput has fallen by 10% since 2014. The Benelux ports increased their market share last year, with Antwerp growing by 5.2% to 11.1m teu, and Rotterdam growing by 5.7% to 14.5m teu.
Ingo Egloff, chief executive of Port of Hamburg Marketing, said that “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 port is undertaking a two-year project to dredge the lower and outer sections of the river Elbe to a tide-independent depth of 13.5 metres, and the construction of a 385-metre passing point for vessels.
Michael Westhagemann, Hamburg’s minister of economics & transport, said that “we shall be implementing the project as swiftly as possible and hope that no delays will arise.”