Port of Kiel (SEEHAFEN KIEL GmbH & Co KG) Managing Director Dirk Claus said: “passenger and cargo traffic developed in different ways last year. We just missed the 5 million ton mark in cargo handling, but at the same time we can look back on the port’s highest passenger totals for ten years. Given the current global economic situation, it’s a good thing that we are so multi-faceted in the Port of Kiel. Last year the Port’s facilities handled 1.85 million passengers along with 4.91 million tons of cargo.”
The number of passengers passing through Kiel last year grew by 12.6 %. “The significance of sea tourism has increased a lot over the past few years and has grown into an important market segment for the Port of Kiel”, said Claus. “Our investment in terminal facilities is now paying off”. In terms of percentage, cruise shipping was the strongest growth sector in 2008, increasing by 28.5 % while the ferry sector chalked up the biggest numerical increase with a plus of 155,000 passengers. Not least among them were the passengers carried during the first full operational year of the Color Magic on the Kiel-Oslo route. The previous year’s passenger figures were also exceeded in traffic to and from the Baltic. A new RoPax ship is expected to go into service on the Kiel-Klaipeda route as early as spring 2009 and it will have a much higher passenger capacity than previous vessels.
In 2008 Kiel was visited 125 times by 23 different cruise ships. The number of passengers embarking or disembarking in the port was 222,130. As of now, there are 123 registrations for calls by 22 cruise ships in the coming season. Nine of them will be visiting the Kiel Fjord for the first time, among them the biggest cruise ships ever to visit the port. The 92,000 GRT MSC Orchestra, which carries 2,500 passengers, is expected on May 20th, a day before the arrival in Kiel of 102,000 GRT Costa Magica, which carries 2,700 passengers. Among important new customers are Holland America Line and TUI Cruises. The season will be opened on April 22nd by the brand-new cruise ship AIDAluna.
Claus said “we have invested at exactly the right time in the conversion of the Ostseekai into a modern cruise shipping terminal. More and more terminal berths are being used by big cruise ships. We expect as many as 250,000 cruise shipping passengers in the 2009 season”, he added. On peak days more than 9,000 passengers are expected at the Ostseekai. Luggage facilities at the terminal are being extended in spring so that check-in procedures can continue to cope with them all smoothly.”
In contrast to developments in the passenger sector, cargo handling has suffered from the global economic situation, particularly in the last quarter of 2008. During that period, handling performance throughout the port declined by 0.4 % in terms of net tons.
Ferry traffic with Scandinavia as well as the Baltic and Russia was hit harder than most by the decline in cargo, not only in Kiel but also in the other German Baltic seaports. Volumes also dropped off in intermodal rail/ship traffic. One ship was taken out of service on the Kiel-St Petersburg route in autumn while frequency was reduced temporarily to one departure a week in each direction.
Claus commented “the Government must now increase its investment in improving hinterland links so that the ability of ports to compete can be strengthened. 2009 is likely to bring big challenges as far as cargo traffic is concerned, but long-term we expect handling volumes to rise again”. He added “we have signed contracts with the firm of BTKI covering the handling of containers in Kiel”.
Developments in the bulk cargo sector have been varied depending on commodities. While agribulk exports increased, along with coal and oil handling, the handling of building materials and inland traffic declined. Overall in the port, 1.5 million tons of bulk cargo were loaded or unloaded, a decline of 4.3 % over 2007.
During 2009 the Port of Kiel plans to invest more than EUR 24 million. By far the largest single investment project is the construction of the Schwedenkai Terminal building and efforts to increase operational performance on that site. The ferry ships of Stena Line will berth there, as well as cruise ships from the summer season of 2010. Overall, EUR 16 million is being invested in the terminal.
“Given the current global economic situation, it is more important than ever that we continue to diversify and gain a stronger foothold in Lift on/Lift off (LoLo) handling”, Claus said. With this in mind, the Port of Kiel has sold off two old harbour cranes in the Stadthafen. They are being replaced by a single, significantly more efficient mobile port crane in the Ostuferhafen. It will have a lifting capacity of 140 tons and extend the port’s performance pallet. Alongside containers, it will be possible to handle grab cargo as well as project and heavy lift cargo of all kinds. The new crane will start operation in spring.
The year 2008 was marked by operational activity expansion in the Port of Kiel’s railway sector. In co-operation with DB Schenker and other rail transport concerns, rail business activity outside the port has been intensified. As a result, the Port of Kiel has, for example, been carrying out marshalling operations since the beginning of 2008 for a refinery on the west coast of the state of Schleswig-Holstein.
In addition, the Port of Kiel, jointly with Paribus Beteiligungs GmbH in Hamburg, has been engaged since Spring 2008 in locomotive leasing. To carry out this work, they created northrail GmbH, based in Hamburg, which markets and manages a pool of Diesel locomotives for marshalling and special assignments. Currently, northrail has 19 locomotives available, most of them in service with private rail transport concerns.