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THE Alliance to switch Germany-North Atlantic calls to Hamburg from Bremerhaven

The AL1, AL2, AL3 and AL4 services connecting the NAEC and Gulf with Northern Europe are set to switch from Eurogate-link terminals in Bremerhaven to HHLA’s CTA Hamburg terminal; around 0.5M TEU on an annualised basis

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THE Alliance (ONE, Hapag-Lloyd and Yang Ming) has not confirmed the switch, but Hamburg sources say it will be made during Q4 2018. On an annual basis, the switch represents around 500,000 TEU of business.

 

It is not clear why the switch is being made, but sources say that THE Alliance can get better rates at CTA, in which Hapag-Lloyd is a 25.1% shareholder. The air draft limitations of the Köhlbrandbrücke in front of the terminal are not a problem for the ships deployed in these services.

The switch could be worth as much as 0.5M TEU a year to HHLA
The switch could be worth as much as 0.5M TEU a year to HHLA

Another reason cited for the move is the more important market in the Hamburg Metropolitan area, better hinterland connections and superior feeder coverage of the Baltic area.

 

Bremerhaven has traditionally been the port for US-Germany container traffic, so this is a major departure.

 

The Port of Hamburg has just reported its H1 2018 results. Container throughput was down 2.7% at 4.3M TEU. Repaeting its Q1 2018 results analysis, the port says this is mostly due to Elbe fairway constraints, which means that lines are primarily using their slot capacities on ULCVs for loaded containers. During H1, the port handled 525,000 TEU of empties, 15.6% fewer thatn in H1 2017. At 3.8M TEU, loaded container traffic was just 0.6% lower.

 

Elbe constraints are also affecting transhipment traffic, which of course is discretionary. During H1 2018, transhipment totalled 1.6M TEU, down 4.4% (76,000 TEU) on H1 2017.

 

Hinterland movements by rail came to a new record of 1.2M TEU (+ 5.4% year-on-year).

 

Separately, a week or so ago HHLA reported its H1 2018 results. It reported a 1.2% increase in container throughput to 3.6M TEU, driven by a 4.1% increase in Asia traffic. Revenue rose by 2.2% to €380.3M, due to a lower feeder ratio in the traffic.

 

Since HHLA is up and the port is down, Eurogate CTH must be continuing to lose traffic, most likely to Eurogate CTW JadeWeserPort.

 

In a new statement, the Port of Hamburg says that all the legal preliminaries on the adjustment of the Outer and Lower Elbe fairway have been completed, so construction work can now start. However, BUND, NABU and other German environmental groups opposed to the project are unlikely to give up on almost 20 years of lobbying and legal action to stop it going ahead.

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