Eurogate, Europe's biggest container terminal operator, boosted 2010 traffic 5.2 percent from a year ago, trailing double digit increases at rival terminals due to lower Hamburg volume and sluggish growth in Italy.
The Bremen-based company handled 12.63 million 20-foot equivalent units last year at nine terminals across Europe, compared with 12 million TEUs in 2009.
This compares with a record 14.2 million TEUs in 2008 and 13.9 million TEUs in 2007.
By The Numbers: Europe-North America Westbound Container Trade
The market has turned the corner but "it will be some time before we catch up with the boom years," said Eurogate chairman Thomas Eckelmann.
"An intelligent business policy and stringent cost management therefore remain important prerequisites for achieving our goals even in the aftermath of the crisis."
Bremerhaven was the best performer, boosting volume 7.4 percent to 4.9 million TEUs, enabling Eurogate to discontinue short time working at the north German port.
Hamburg saw traffic shrink almost 1 percent to 2.1 million TEUs, reportedly due to the loss of a Maersk Line Asia-Europe service.
Eurogate's six minority-owned Italian terminals, including the Giaio Tauro and Cagliari transshipment hubs, grew traffic just 0.8 percent to 4.7 million TEUs.
Eurogate, a joint venture between Bremen-based BLG and Eurokai of Hamburg, has a 33.4 percent stake in Contship Italia, Italy's largest container terminal operator.
The Tanger terminal in Morocco, which began operations in 2007, boosted volume 56.3 percent to over 680,000 TEUs.
Traffic in Lisbon, Portugal, jumped 1.7 percent to 231,000 TEUs.
Eckelmann voiced "grave concern" that delays in deepening the shipping channels of the Elbe and Weser rivers could undermine Hamburg and Bremerhaven's ability to compete with rival north European ports as ocean carriers introduce ships "that are ever wider and have deeper draughts."
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