Maersk slams Hamburg costs and productivity
The chief operating officer of the world"s largest shipping line has lashed out at the port of Hamburg for being too expensive despite being less productive than its major competitors.
?We see the difference between the well-performing terminals like Bremerhaven or Rotterdam and ports like Hamburg, Antwerp and Le Havre with somewhat lower productivity figures,? Maersk Line"s chief operating officer Morten Engelstoft told a meeting of Bremen"s freight forwarders" association.
Bremerhaven and Rotterdam were the best ports on the northern and western ranges, according to Mr Engelstoft.
?At both places we have good performance levels and good efficiency,? he said.
When comparing western European ports and German North Sea ports respectively, Bremerhaven performed better than Hamburg while Rotterdam performed better than Le Havre, Mr Engelstoft said.
Mr Engelstoft"s preference for Bremerhaven came not completely as a surprise, as Maersk"s terminal operator APM operates a joint facility with Eurogate in Germany"s second-largest seaport. In Hamburg, on the other hand, APM failed in its attempts to set up a dedicated terminal in the past.
But Mr Engelstoft"s critical remarks struck a nerve. Hamburg is trying to regain its competitiveness after suffering more from the crisis more than its competitors and it is often criticised for being too expensive.
However, the port has always argued that it is one of the most efficient ports. Mr Engelstoft"s statement has now cast doubts upon this.
Mr Engelstoft also stressed that costs in Hamburg were high, especially for pilotage. ?They are three times higher than in Bremerhaven and must be reduced for the port to stay competitive,? he said.
According to Mr Engelstoft, port costs account for about 28% of a carrier"s total costs.
Speaking about the new deep-water terminal Jade-Weser Port in Wilhelmshaven, which is currently under construction, Mr Engelstoft said that his group remains committed to the project. Maersk subsidiary APM will operate the terminal together with Eurogate. However, he stressed that timing was very important given a number of plans for capacity extensions at terminals.
?It is important to get off to a good start,? Mr Engelstoft said. He added that it is hard for a port to recover from a bad reputation.
Both, Eurogate and APM are understood to want to delay the start of the new terminal, which is currently planned for February 2012, as they expect overcapacities to persist for the next few years. The state of Lower Saxony, on the other hand, wants to prevent any further delay.