Παρασκευή, 3 Ιουλ 2020

Calls, connectivity, liners and alliances at Thessaloniki container port

Γράφτηκε από PORTECONOMICS
Πέμπτη, 31 Οκτωβρίου 2019, 17:10

by George Vaggelas & Thanos Pallis

Thessaloniki stands as the second biggest container port in Greece and a peripheral port aiming to serve the Balkans and further regions in Southeast Europe. It is almost a year since the privatization of the Thessaloniki Port Authority S.A., via the selling of the majority of the shares of the Port Authority that also acts as the single operator of the port of Thessaloniki. The new owner has committed to invest €180 million, with the majority to be invested in the tripling of the container terminal’s capacity

We collected data for a period of two (2) months, aiming to analyse the current status of the port and realize the level of its embeddedness in the maritime transport systems as well as its direct connectivity with other ports system of Southeast Europe  – an analysis providing the background for a future comparison and further conclusions once the port expansion materializes and the new governance model of the port evolves.

We recorded a total of 79 container ship calls, with the average capacity of these ships being 1.579 TEUs. The smaller container ships called at the port had a capacity of 374 TEUs and the biggest one had a capacity of 5.060 TEUs – the need for dredging (current max. 12 meters) is an essential step towards the elimination of the serious limitation present.

Thessaloniki acts as a peripheral port, relying strongly on feedering services. 87,3% of the calls performed by feeder vessels with a capacity of less than 3.000 TEUs, and only 10 calls out of 79 were vessels with a capacity of more than 3.000 TEUs.

This outcome is further exposed by the analysis of the ports that container ships call prior or after the port of Thessaloniki.  In total the port is connected with 15 ports located in eight different countries. With only one call register in two of these countries, it is safe to conclude that these have been extraordinary (rather than periodical) calls.

Most of the direct linkages are with other ports in the Greece (46,5% of the calls) with Turkish ports standing second in terms of number of linkages (32,5%)

Table 1. Breakdown of ship calls based on the capacity

With more than half of the calls at the port of Thessaloniki performed by container ships coming from the port of Piraeus the dependency of the former port by the latter. The biggest container port in Greece, and the second biggest in the Mediterranean sea is the major trading “partner” for the port of Thessaloniki, with 55,1% of the calls reaching Thessaloniki Piraeus and 29,11% of the calls depart Thessaloniki heading to the COSCO owned and operated Piraeus, which maintains a better connectivity with  major container ports in the Far East and the Chinese markets. Other container port hubs in the area – such as Izmir, Gemlik, Ambarli and Asyaport in Turkey or Marsaxlokk in Malta – are also well connected with the port of Thessaloniki.

Which Liner?

With regards to the major three shipping alliances, 2M vessels correspond to the 35,9% of the total number calls. Ocean Alliance calls represent 25,7%, with none of “THE ALLIANCE members using the port of Thessaloniki.

The major client of the port is MSC, the only 2M  member calling Thessaloniki. Three of the four members of Ocean Alliance that brings together China Cosco Shipping, with Evergreen Line, CMA CGM, and OOCL in a vessel- and slot-sharing agreement, call at the port.  COSCO and Evergreen represent 9% of the total calls each. CMA-CGM accounts for 6% of the total calls. With one of the major partners in the consortium that took control of the port of Thessaloniki being Terminal Link, a company dealing with the operation of port terminals in which CMA-CGM holds a significant share, it is interesting to monitor the extent that this percentage, but also the respective absolute number of calls will change.  The rest 38% of the calls are calls of different feeder shipping companies.

PortGraphic 1. ThPA major clients

The average size of the operated by the Ocean Alliance container ships calling at the port of Thessaloniki is 1.571 TEUs and the respective size for the “2M” is 2.416 TEUs. The bigger average size of the vessels operated by 2M is due to the fact that the alliance operates a weekly service connecting Thessaloniki with other major European container ports except Piraeus such as London Gateway (UK), Rotterdam (The Netherlands), Antwerp (Belgium).

With Thessaloniki being a port having a peripheral role in the maritime container market, well connected with transshipment hubs in Greece and Turkey, and heavily serving feeder services from/to Piraeus, the new ownership has to proceed to the essential steps that upgrade the current role of the port. The presence of an international terminal operator (Terminal Link), that is strongly connected with a major container shipping company (CMA-CGM) might be a value added for the port in an effort to attract deep sea services directly from the Far East.  Time will tell.

 

First Published By PortEconomics