Annual Report 2023

Container segment

Key figures

in € million













- 18.0 %







- 43.0 %

EBITDA margin in %






- 9.0 pp







- 70.0 %

EBIT margin in %






- 11.5 pp

Container throughput in thousand TEU






- 7.5 %

In the 2023 reporting year, there was a significant overall year-on-year decline in container throughput at HHLA’s container terminals of 7.5 % to 5,917 thousand standard containers (TEU) (previous year: 6,396 thousand TEU).

Container throughput

in thousand TEU

Development in container throughput (bar chart)

At 5,687 thousand TEU, throughput volume at the Hamburg container terminals was down 6.3 % on the same period last year (previous year: 6,071 thousand TEU). The main driver of this development was the decline in volumes of the Far East shipping region, and China in particular. The positive momentum from North American cargo volumes and the throughput volumes of the Middle East could only partially offset this trend. Feeder traffic volumes were also strongly down on the previous year. In addition to the reduction in Swedish and Polish traffic, volumes from Russia were also absent due to the sanctions imposed. Finnish and Lithuanian cargo volumes, on the other hand, made good progress. The proportion of seaborne handling by feeders decreased year-on-year to 18.6 % (previous year: 19.8 %).

The international container terminals reported a sharp decline in throughput volume of 29.1 % to 231 thousand TEU (previous year: 326 thousand TEU). This was due in particular to the significant decrease in cargo volumes at Container Terminal Odessa (CTO) after seaborne handling there was suspended by the authorities at the end of February 2022 following the Russian invasion. Only grain ships operating under the Black Sea Grain Initiative were occasionally handled there. There has also been an absence of extra calls at the TK Estonia container terminal as an alternative to Russian ports in 2023 compared to the previous year. The notable increase in throughput volumes at the multi-function terminal HHLA PLT Italy was unable to offset this shortfall.

Revenue in this segment fell by 18.0 % in the reporting period to € 708.8 million (previous year: € 864.2 million). In addition to the significant decrease in volumes, this was mainly due to shorter dwell times for containers being handled at the Hamburg terminals compared to the previous year, when supply chain disruptions had led to increased storage fees. Revenue was also adversely affected by the official suspension of operations at CTO and the transfer of HHLA-Personal-Service GmbH (HPSG) from the pro-forma Holding/Other segment to the Container segment.

There was a significant net decline in operating income and expenses included in the operating result (defined in total as EBIT costs) of 6.4 % in the reporting period. This was mainly due to the significant volume-related decline in personnel expenses, the mainly volume and energy-price related sharp fall in material expenses and the closure of CTO since March last year. Other operating income also rose due to the reversal of other liabilities for ship delays in 2022, as well as further reimbursements such as the reversal of expenses in connection with machinery breakdown insurance at the Hamburg container terminals. Expenses for external maintenance services, as well as for consulting, services and insurance, were reduced significantly. Notable drivers of this trend were the measures to safeguard earnings implemented in March 2023 at the Altenwerder, Burchhardkai and Tollerort container terminals. By contrast, EBIT costs at the Trieste terminal rose year-on-year due to additional cargo volumes. The integration of HHLA-Personal-Service GmbH into the Container segment also had a negative impact on earnings.

Against this backdrop, the operating result (EBIT) decreased by 70.0 % to € 47.2 million in the reporting period (previous year: € 157.3 million). The EBIT margin fell by 11.5 percentage points to 6.7 % (previous year: 18.2 %).

HHLA continued to invest in climate-friendly terminal technology in 2023 with a view to improving energy efficiency and thus also future cost-effectiveness. The completion of the first delivery lot of new container gantry cranes continued at Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA). These new container gantry cranes will enhance the already high level of automation. The electrification of the fleet of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) has been completed. Orders were also placed for ten further battery-powered tractor units and the required energy supply infrastructure. This investment is in line with the HHLA sustainability strategy and underscores the leading position of CTA as the world’s first certified climate-neutral terminal. Container Terminal Burchardkai (CTB) continued to drive the expansion and commissioning of additional automatic blocks, thus also supporting efforts to modernise and enhance the efficiency of the terminals. Eight hybrid container vehicles were adopted as replacement investments for the Container Terminal Tollerort (CTT); to date, three existing units have been scrapped. These new vehicles consume significantly less fuel than diesel-powered vehicles. In addition, the hazardous goods storage facility has been renovated in order to ensure that hazardous goods can continue to be stored safely. This work was completed at the end of 2023.

Automated guided vehicle (AGV)
A fully automatic, driverless transport vehicle which carries containers back and forth between the container gantry cranes on the quayside and the block storage yard at the HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder.
Container gantry crane
A crane system used to load and discharge container ships. As ships are becoming larger and larger, the latest container gantry cranes have much higher, longer jibs to match.
Earnings before interest and taxes.
Feeder/Feeder ship
Vessels which carry smaller numbers of containers to ports. From Hamburg, feeders are primarily used to transport boxes to the Baltic region.
Payments for investments in property, plant and equipment, investment property and intangible assets.
Revenue from sales or lettings and from services rendered, less sales deductions and VAT.
Standard container
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.
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.

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