pomorski park naukowo- technologiczny gdynia

Aleja Zwycięstwa 96/98

81-451 Gdynia


In expectation of the virus consequences

The first quarter of 2020 got off to an excellent start at the Polish container terminals. In January, the cargo handling operations showed both a dynamic annual growth of 10% as well as a monthly growth of 6%. Nobody expected any problems. Unfortunately, these appeared along with some increasingly distressing news about a Coronavirus in China, which started having a negative impact on the Chinese economy. As a consequence, in February, the DCT was forced to announce that in March the arrivals of 2 large ocean going vessels would have to be cancelled. This was reflected in the results. The turnover started dropping quickly. An excellent January was followed with a drop by 14% in February, but it was still comparable with the February 2019 figure; however, March brought further reduction in turnover by 24.5% in relation to February and as much as by 30.5% in relation to March 2019. Consequently, in the first 3 months of this year, the DCT handled 471.5 thousand TEU, in other words nearly 8 % less than in the previous year.

The remaining terminals were not as affected by the economic turbulence caused by the pandemic in the first quarter. In February of this year, the figures for cargo handling were lower than the year previously, but the BCT achieved growth in relation to January, and at the GCT the recorded drop in the figures fell within the limits of normal fluctuation. On the other hand, at the DB Port Szczecin, the turnover increased dynamically both on an annual scale - growth by 66% - and a monthly scale - growth by 25%. In March, all the terminals, apart from the DB, recorded increases in relation to the previous month. However, the disturbing news was that the turnover remained constantly at the level below that from the year before (again, apart from the Szczecin terminal, which recorded annual increases). In effect, in the first quarter of this year, the Gdynia terminals serviced in total 224 thousand TEU, whereby the BCT handled 128.7 thousand TEU, and the GCT 95.3 thousand TEU, in other words more than 3% less than in the previous year. By contrast, at the same time the Szczecin DB serviced 21 thousand TEU, in other words by 32% more than in the first quarter of the previous year.

Large monthly drops in turnover at the DCT had to find their reflection in the combined quarterly results of all the terminals, but the economic setback is not as great as it would be expected. In comparison with the first quarter of 2019, in the first 3 months of this year, the terminals handled nearly 720 thousand TEU of cargo, which indicates a drop by 4.6% and could frankly be considered to be a natural fluctuation in the growth trend.

As can be seen, in the first quarter, the Coronavirus pandemic had a significant negative influence only on the operations of the largest Polish terminal, one which services vessels arriving from Asia, which is from where the disease spread only later into the other parts of the world. Whereas the Gdynia terminals, as well as the DB PS, handle intra-European feeder services and short sea shipping, which did not experience any negative consequences of the virus during the first 3 months of this year. However, it should be remembered that COVID-19 pandemic started having a negative impact on the Polish economy only in March. We can only assume that the economic impact of freezing the economy will be reflected only in the results for the second quarter of this year at the container terminals.


Article developed with "Namiary na Morze i Handel" magazine.

phot. T. Urbaniak/ZMPGa

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