This week a German trade paper for transport and logistics presented the findings of its online market survey of customers of the Port of Hamburg under the headline “Hamburg loses cargo.” “Taking into account the information available to us from shippers and following initial evaluation of the current throughput figures for the Port of Hamburg’s container traffic, we are unable to understand this statement,” says Axel Mattern, CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing (HHM), the port’s marketing and market research organisation. The online market survey implemented by this German trade paper for transport and logostics reported that 84 percent of respondents stated that they were already routing imports and exports in container traffic via other ports due to handling problems. According to Axel Mattern and his HHM Executive Board colleague Ingo Egloff, facts on the market received by HHM through its own inland representative offices, or direct from shippers, reflect a completely different situation. Of 4500 companies involved in seaborne foreign trade in the Bavaria/Baden-Württemberg region and contacted by HHM, fewer than ten replied that they had transferred shipments on account of handling problems. In North and Western Germany, the figure was 15 of 1000 companies, most of whom were only diverting cargoes to other ports in the short term.
Against the background of a record throughput trend in container handling in the Port of Hamburg, in the view of both members of HHM’s Executive Board the statement that “Hamburg loses cargo” for is mistaken. “The Port of Hamburg already enjoyed above-average growth compared to the other ports in Northern Europe in the first quarter of 2014. Current evaluations of the throughput trend have enabled us to establish that this growth is continuing unchanged. The Port of Hamburg is accordingly reporting no downturn in container throughput, but is instead increasing its share and gaining growing market shares in container traffic,” explain Mattern and Egloff. HHM will be presenting the half-year throughput figures at a Port of Hamburg press conference on 18 August. The two HHM Executive Board members regard it as important to point out that handling problems at individual cargo handling companies are not the same thing as a throughput crisis for Germany’s largest universal port: “This notion creates a view in the public domain that nothing is functioning in the Port of Hamburg as a whole.
That is completely untrue and does enormous damage to Hamburg as a port and logistics base. In Hamburg we have four large container terminals. Handling problems have caused criticism of one, HHLA Container Terminal Burchardkai. We are in contact with all operators and can see that all port concerns take every handling problem extremely seriously and work on improvements. We are convinced that these will have a positive effect and ensure an easing of the situation on container handling.” “We are surprised that a trade paper that in its own words cultivates the image of German seaports should in dealing with the survey findings have failed to display the, in our view, essential sensitivity for the signal conveyed by a contribution of this kind. As HHM, we would wish to have been involved in advance in the research into this topic,” is the criticism from Mattern and Egloff.