Cargo traffic at Thessaloniki port up 27 pct

The port of Thessaloniki, Greece?s second-biggest, processed almost 27 percent more cargo in the first half of the year as shipments to and from Balkan countries increased.

Total cargo going through the port, which markets itself as a maritime gateway to the Balkans, rose to almost 7.4 million metric tons in the six months, from 5.8 million in the same period of 2011, according to a statement on the website of Thessaloniki Port Authority SA (OLTH).

The volume of dry bulk and general cargo increased more than 43 percent, to almost 2.6 million tons, boosted by so-called transit cargo arriving from, or destined for, Greece?s northern neighbors such as Bulgaria.

The number of cargo containers handled at the port increased more than 3 percent to 147,000, while passengers on ships using the port increased almost 13 percent to 17,109.

The government plans to sell stakes in OLTH and Piraeus Port as part of a program of state asset sales. [Bloomberg]