Container traffic in the port of Amsterdam crashed by more than half in 2009 compared with the previous year as the port lost two of its three deep-sea liner services to neighboring Rotterdam.
But the second largest Dutch port boosted its market share in the Le Havre-Hamburg port range as overall cargo shrunk a mere 3 percent to 73 million metric tons, well below the rate of decline at its northwest European rivals.
Container traffic tumbled 53 percent to 200,000 20-foot equivalent units in 2009 from 425,000 TEUs the previous year as four ocean carriers grouped in the Grand Alliance terminated calls by two Asia-Europe services at Amsterdam Container Terminal in response to falling cargo volume and the introduction of bigger vessels that can't pass through the port's lock system.
The Grand Alliance is shuttering a third service this month which will effectively wipe out Amsterdam's box traffic.
The port, which aimed to break through 500,000 TEUs in 2008, is now mulling whether to mothball the container terminal until 2015 when its lock system will be deepened to allow the largest ships to navigate the canal linking it to the North Sea.
Oil products traffic surged 15 percent last year to 39 million metric tons offsetting a 13 percent slide in dry bulk shipments to 31 million metric tons and limiting the decline in overall cargo to 3 percent. By contrast, Rotterdam traffic fell 8.5 percent in 2009 and Antwerp was down 16.7 percent.
"Compared to other ports, we are still doing very well. Our market share is expected to increase to 8.2 percent," said Port of Amsterdam Chief Executive Officer Dertje Meijer. "This means that after Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg, we are the fourth largest port of northwest Europe."
The port said it expects traffic to stabilize in 2010 and might benefit from a slight economic growth forecast for the year.
Contact Bruce Barnard at email@example.com.