As Europe’s top ports dominate the headlines with both positive and negative news, smaller ports are busy with recent deals that suggest to shippers that they have an alternative route for imports and exports. On the other hand, the leading container hubs, 2M, Ocean Alliance and THE Alliance, have consolidated to strengthen their dominance over Le Havre-Hamburg port range with Rotterdam and Antwerp increasing their traffic due to economic revival in the European continent.
The alliance seems to make a difference in making or breaking the ports ambitions across the highly competitive northwest European waterfront. Calls from the ships of 2M and Ocean Alliance on the Asia-Europe route have resulted into a surge in traffic. This prompted a 50% increase in the workforce of Jade Weser Terminal in the German port of Wilhelms haven. This is considered as an improvement since Wilhelms haven used to be dismissed as a white elephant a few years after it opened and failed to attract any scheduled services.
When 2M and Ocean Alliance added direct calls to the DCT Gdansk terminal, it resulted into 24% increase in traffic just short of the 1.6 million TEU in 2017. When the Polish terminal opened 10 years ago, it only handled 4,423 TEU. In Barcelona, the 32.3% surge to 2.97 million TEU last year made it the fastest growing container hub in Europe. The growth was partly due to Mediterranean Shipping Company, Maersk’s 2M partner that launched 5 new services at the Spanish port.
Meanwhile, European shippers do not actually care which port handles their goods. However, big companies try to strike deals with ocean carriers while smaller firms simply rely on freight forwarders to seek for the most cost effective door-to-door freight rates. Shippers also choose the bigger ports that do not have any operational issues.
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