Growth in container traffic at the Port of Felixstowe, England, is running well ahead of target.
Throughput last year of 752,336 containers, equivalent to slightly more than 1 million 20-foot units, represented an increase of 17.5 percent on 1986 and a rise of 40 percent over the past two years.Container traffic is already at a level that was not expected to be reached until 1990, said Robert Guille, the port's chairman and managing director.
Felixstowe last year became the first British port to handle more than a million 20-foot units, Mr. Guille notes in the annual report of the Felixstowe Dock & Railway Co., a subsidiary of the P&O Group.
Record cargo business was accompanied by a substantial increase in pretax profit that rose to 9 million ($16 million) in 1987 from 5.5 million in 1986.
The growth in container traffic was particularly noticeable on the Far East trade routes, but Mr. Guille noted that the North Atlantic and other trades also witnessed a welcome, if smaller, improvement last year.
The port attracted a number of new customers last year, many of which were newcomers to the United Kingdom. Maersk Line started calling at Felixstowe last month when it inaugurated its trans-Atlantic service.
Other areas of port operations also reported steady, if unspectacular, growth, with roll-on roll-off traffic showing a healthy increase.
However, Mr. Guille noted that difficulties are still being experienced by shipowners in most trades as a result of overcapacity and consequent low freight rates. This in turn is reflected in the rates charged by ports that, in turn, reduce the return on capital.