Sector Development

The situation in the container shipping segment remained challenging in 2016. Market research institute Drewry expects global container throughput in the reporting period to remain at a weak growth level of 1.3 % as in the previous year. By contrast, the European shipping regions regained momentum following stagnation and, in some areas, severe slumps in the previous year. Drewry anticipates throughput growth of 1.5 % in 2016 for the north-western European ports. At the same time, the severe drop in throughput at the Scandinavian and Baltic Sea ports has been stopped and experts are also forecasting throughput growth of 1.5 % for this region in the reporting period.

Development of Container Throughput by Region

in %





Source: Drewry Maritime Research, December 2016






Europe as a whole




- 1.7

North-West Europe





Scandinavia and the Baltic region




- 12.2

Western Mediterranean





Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea




- 4.1

The trend among the major container ports of the , as well as the largest ports of the western Baltic Sea (Gdansk, Gothenburg), was mixed. The Port of Hamburg recorded slight growth of 1.0 % in the year under review. Europe’s largest container port, Rotterdam, handled 12.4 million , 1.2 % more than in the previous year. Throughput in Antwerp rose by 4.0 % year-on-year to exceed 10 million TEU for the first time, thus extending its position as Europe’s second largest container port. By contrast, throughput volumes continued to decline at Zeebrugge – the second Scheldt port in Belgium – and were down 10.8 % on the previous year at 1.4 million TEU in the reporting period. This was due to volume shifts and the closure of a further . Bremerhaven stemmed the downward trend of the previous years somewhat in 2016 but was again down on the previous year with a decline of 1.0 % to 5.5 million . Growth at the nearby JadeWeserPort in Wilhelmshaven was spurred by its increased integration into the 2M alliance route network. It handled a total of 0.5 million TEU, 12.9 % more containers than in the previous year. Gdansk increased container throughput by 19.1 % to 1.3 million TEU in the reporting period and thus more than offset the cargo losses caused by the Russian crisis in 2015. By contrast, the volume of containers handled in Gothenburg fell by 2.7 % against the previous year to 0.8 million TEU.

Development of Container Throughput at Northern European Ports

in million TEU







Source: Port Authorities







1.2 %







4.0 %







1.0 %

Bremen ports






- 1.0 %







- 10.8 %







19.1 %







- 2.7 %







12.9 %

Despite the modest growth in container throughput, market research institute AXS Alphaliner estimates that the carrying capacity of the global container ship fleet increased by 1.5 % to 20.3 million TEU in 2016. The number of ultra large vessels with a capacity of more than 10,000 TEU increased particularly strongly, with growth of 16.1 % to total 388. This means that some 69 % of the ships delivered in 2016 can carry in excess of 10,000 TEU.

Rail freight traffic in Germany recorded modest growth over the course of the year. Compared with the previous year, transport volumes only rose by 0.3 % in the first ten months of 2016. However, traffic performance – transport volume multiplied by the distance travelled – increased slightly by 1.6 % in the same period.

Rail freight traffic declined across Europe. Transport demand for rail traffic was already diminished in the first three quarters, both at European level and in those markets of Central and Eastern Europe of particular relevance to HHLA. Whereas transport volumes fell by 1.3 % year-on-year across Europe as a whole, the decline of 4.7 % recorded in Central and Eastern Europe was considerably stronger. However, trends varied strongly in the individual markets. Transport volumes in Poland and Hungary fell year-on-year by 4.2 % and 1.7 % respectively in the first nine months of 2016. By contrast, rail cargo in the Czech Republic rose by 1.2 %. The decrease in traffic performance across Europe was less pronounced than the decline in transport volumes. However, the decline in traffic performance in Central and Eastern Europe was comparably strong.

North Range

The North European coast. In the broadest geographic sense, this is where all the international ports in Northern Europe from Le Havre to Hamburg can be found. The four largest ports are Hamburg, Bremerhaven, Rotterdam and Antwerp.

TEU (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit)

A TEU is a 20-foot standard container, used as a unit for measuring container volumes. A 20-foot standard container is 6.06 metres long, 2.44 metres wide and 2.59 metres high.


In maritime logistics, a terminal is a facility where freight transported by various modes of transport is handled.

TEU (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit)

A TEU is a 20-foot standard container, used as a unit for measuring container volumes. A 20-foot standard container is 6.06 metres long, 2.44 metres wide and 2.59 metres high.