Piraeus Port is weathering the coronavirus pandemic quite well, for the time being. Data from the first seven months of the year show only a marginal negative drop in its main activity, container handling.
The volume of container handling on all three piers dropped about 3% in January-July compared to the same period in 2019. At the same time, big European and US ports posted a drop of about 10%.
The port’s management says the drop does not change its initial goals for the whole year. They add, however, that everything will depend on how the pandemic will evolve and on whether demand in Europe can recover. But, overall, they were quite confident that Piraeus Port can continue to outperform its competitors.
The reasons for this performance are the significant improvements in container handling times and overall competitiveness achieved by the management of Cosco Shipping, Piraeus Port’s majority owner. The China-based Cosco also actively supports its investment by directing a large part of Asian exports to Europe through the Greek port.
Also, the handing over of Pier I’s operations to the team of managers and employees operating Piers II and III has greatly improved its efficiency and output. After Piers II and III were leased to Cosco, Pier I continued to be operated by Piraeus Port, then still a state company, until Cosco became a majority owner in 2016.
Despite the very satisfactory results in containers, the port’s other activities have been much more affected by the pandemic. Specifically, the cruise sector has essentially collapsed, while passenger traffic is significantly reduced, in line with the drop in tourism.
The handling of new vehicles at Piraeus Port’s Car Terminal has dropped 40%, as the economic crisis in Greece and the whole of Europe deepens, hitting the new car market.
However, Piraeus Port officials expect this particular activity to rebound significantly from the beginning of 2021, as people start buying more electric cars, thanks in large part to government-provided incentives. Demand will increase across Europe, they say.