Wilhelmshaven boosts labor to handle doubled cargo growth

Wilhelmshaven boosts labor to handle doubled cargo growth

Traffic at Wilhelmshaven has surged after getting off to a slow start in the years after its commissioning.

Eurogate is to boost the workforce at its Wilhelmshaven container terminal by 50 percent to keep pace with a surge in traffic since two major carrier alliances have been calling at Germany’s only deep-sea port.

Monthly traffic has doubled since May owing to the services operated by the world’s largest carriers, which will require the addition of an extra 200, mainly operational staff, to the current 400-strong workforce over the next two years, the company said.

The extra employees will also help the container terminal maximize the potential of its favorable nautical access and available yard area to boost its market share, Eurogate said.

“Since the consolidation from four to three major alliances, our monthly handling figures have doubled and we are seeing a significantly increased level of interest in Eurogate Container Terminal Wilhelmshaven both regionally and supra-regionally,” said Mikkel Andersen, managing director of the terminal.

“Compared to other port locations, Wilhelmshaven is a young port with a very young container terminal. The current consolidation process among the shipping lines and the resulting processes of change in the market provide Eurogate with the opportunity in Wilhelmshaven to establish ourselves as a first-class container terminal.”

The calls by the 2M and Ocean Alliance services are a major boost to Wilhelmshaven, which was seen as a possible white elephant when it opened in September 2012 and had to put some of its employees on short-time working as late as 2014 owing to extremely low traffic.

The terminal, which has an annual capacity of 2.7 million TEU, handled just over 76,000 TEU in 2013, dashing hopes of luring traffic from its powerful neighbors Hamburg and Bremen/Bremerhaven.

Traffic has started to grow in recent years, helped by the arrival of Maersk Line at the terminal, which is 30 percent owned by Maersk’s APM Terminals.

Volume grew almost 13 percent year over year in 2016 to just short of 482,000 TEU, helped by Asia-Europe services operated by the 2M partnership between Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co.

This compared with a 0.6 percent decline at Eurogate’s flagship Bremerhaven terminals to 5.49 million TEU and a 0.9 percent dip in Hamburg to 2.26 million TEU, partly due to the collapse of Korea’s Hanjin Shipping.

Eurogate, which owns 70 percent of the Wilhelmshaven facility, is Europe’s largest container terminal operator, handling 14.6 million TEU in 2016 at 11 terminals in Germany, Russia, Portugal, Morocco, and Italy, where it has a 33 percent stake in Contship Italia.

The company expanded its European footprint in January with the addition of a terminal in Limassol, Cyprus.

Contact Bruce Barnard at brucebarnard47@hotmail.com.