Interim Statement January – September 2023

Container segment

Key figures

in € million


1–9 | 2023


1–9 | 2022









- 18.2 %







- 48.0 %

EBITDA margin in %






- 11.0 pp







- 77.6 %

EBIT margin in %






- 13.5 pp

Container throughput in thousand TEU






- 8.5 %

In the first nine months of 2023, container throughput at HHLA’s container terminals decreased year-on-year by 8.5 % to 4,455 thousand standard containers (TEU) (previous year: 4,869 thousand TEU).

At 4,286 thousand TEU, throughput volume at the Hamburg container terminals was down 6.9 % on the same period last year (previous year: 4,605 thousand TEU). The main driver of this development was the decline in volumes of the Far East shipping region – China in particular. The positive momentum from North American cargo volumes and the throughput volumes of the Middle East were unable to 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. The proportion of seaborne handling by feeders decreased year-on-year to 18.4 % (previous year: 20.5 %).

Throughput volume at the international container terminals fell by 36.0 % year-on-year to 169 thousand TEU (previous year: 264 thousand TEU). This was due in particular to the strong decline 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 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. The notable increase in throughput volumes at the multi-function terminal HHLA PLT Italy was unable to fully offset this shortfall.

Segment revenue fell by 18.2 % in the reporting period to € 534.3 million (previous year: € 653.2 million). In addition to the significant decrease in volumes, this was mainly due to shorter dwell times for containers 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 moderate net decline in operating income and expenses included in the operating result (defined in total as EBIT costs) of 4.6 % in the reporting period. This was mainly due to the significant volume-related decline in personnel expenses, the closure of CTO since March last year and additional other operating income due to the reversal of other liabilities for ship delays at the Hamburg container terminals in 2022. By contrast, there were increases – and in some cases strong increases – in energy costs and expenses for external maintenance services. Compared to the first nine months of the previous year, EBIT costs at the Trieste terminal also rose 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 77.6 % to € 27.3 million (previous year: € 121.7 million). The EBIT margin fell by 13.5 percentage points to 5.1 % (previous year: 18.6 %).

HHLA continued to invest in climate-friendly terminal technology with a view to improving energy efficiency and thus also future cost-effectiveness. Manufacturing began for the first delivery lot of new container gantry cranes for 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. Where necessary, these AGVs are supplied with green electricity completely automatically at a total of 18 charging stations and their batteries are also used as energy storage units. In addition, first-stage testing has been successfully carried out for automated truck handling and a first storage block has been equipped with this functionality. A total of eight hybrid container vehicles have been delivered to Container Terminal Tollerort (CTT). These consume significantly less fuel than diesel-powered vehicles. In addition, renovation of the hazardous goods storage facility has started in order to ensure that hazardous goods can continue to be stored safely. This work is scheduled for completion before the end of 2023. 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.