Tough conditions for cruise and coastal shipping were largely responsible for an 11% fall in revenue at Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) last year, although container volumes at the Greek hub showed some resilience.
The port handled 5,437,477 teu in 2020, representing a 4% drop in container volumes, mainly due to a 5% decrease at the COSCO-operated Piraeus Container Terminal (PCT), which handles the majority of the container traffic in Piraeus.
At the PPA’s Pier I facility, volumes increased by 11% to 540,591 teu, benefiting from a significant increase in transhipment, primarily from COSCO Shipping, following a strategic synergy agreed between the PPA and PCT.
“As transhipment volumes represent approximately 82.5% of total PPA Pier I volumes, the container terminal is expected to remain resilient in crisis throughout 2021,” noted the port authority in its annual results report.
The terminal remained fully operational during the whole period of restrictive measures taken in Greece, although the economic slowdown caused a 12% reduction in gateway cargo volumes.
Overall, the PPA was most hit by an 84% decline in cruise shipping revenue, with the pandemic bringing the sector to a standstill. Profit before tax amounted to €37m (US$45m), representing a 22% decrease.
Yu Zenggang, chairman of the board of directors at PPA, said: “Despite the impact of COVID-19 and the negative effects on the financial results in specific business units, the company achieved the uninterrupted continuation of port activities in conditions of safety, without placing any employee on temporary suspension.
“In addition, the company proceeded with the contracting of investments amounting to €212m (US$260m) and strengthened its efforts to accelerate their implementation, despite the challenging conditions.”
Most of this investment went into the expansion of the passenger terminal and the improvement of infrastructure at the ship repair zone.
Almost €7m (US$8m) was spent on the repair of pavements, rails and rail-mounted gantry (RMG) cranes at the Pier I container terminal.