Container volumes at DP World rose marginally last year, propelled by stronger growth in the second half of the year.
The Dubai-based ports operator handled 55 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), an expansion of 0.7 per cent compared to the year before on a like-for-like basis.
Growth was stronger, however, at its Dubai operations, which recorded a record volume last year.
The company expects better results this year.
“Economic headwinds combined with limited spare capacity across our portfolio constrained our ability to grow volumes further in 2013,” said Mohammed Sharaf, the group chief executive of DP World. “However, the addition of new capacity in 2014 combined with a projected pickup in global trade should allow us to return to a more normalised growth rate.”
Operating in an industry powered by the ebb and flow of demand for goods, DP World has had to withstand shock waves from the global downturn and the euro-zone crisis, as well as more recently a cooling in China and other emerging markets.
On a consolidated basis, container volumes slipped 3.8 per cent after the company sold part of its Hong Kong assets. DP World last March said it was selling 75 per cent of its interest in CSX World Terminals Hong Kong, which operates Berth 3 of the Kwai Chung Container Terminal, and ATL Logistics Centre Hong Kong, which is located alongside the terminal, for Dh2.7 billion.
But reflecting the recovering outlook of global trade, activity was more buoyant in the second half of the year, driven by improved performance in the group’s Asia-Pacific, Australia and UAE terminals. As a result, expansion registered 3.6 per cent in the second half of the year. European countries continued to show signs of stability, said DP World.
The company should benefit from greater capacity this year as the London Gateway port in the UK and Embraport at Santos, Brazil have their first full year of operation since opening in the second half of last year. London Gateway has an initial capacity of 1.6 million TEUs, with Embraport generating an extra 1million TEUs of capacity.
Expansion is also under way at DP World’s flagship port of Jebel Ali.
The Dubai operations delivered a record year, handling 13.6 million TEUs, up 2.7 per cent from the year before. The increased output was helped by the 1 million TEU expansion of the port’s Terminal 2.
“This reflects the continued growth of Dubai, the UAE and the wider region,” said Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of DP World. “This year, we will add 4 million TEU new capacity at Terminal 3 to ensure we are well placed to handle future capacity demand in Dubai.”
In another sign of surging activity in Dubai’s trade, the air freight volumes at Al Maktoum International Dubai World Central grew by 15.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year to 63,028 tonnes of cargo. That compared to 54,336 tonnes during the same period a year earlier.
Because of fluctuations in charter traffic during the full year, cargo volumes dipped by 4.5 per cent to 209,209 tonnes on an annual basis.
Since passenger operations began on October 27 with the opening of the passenger terminal, DWC has handled a total of 65,197 passengers. At the moment, Wizz Air, Jazeera Airways and Gulf Air use the airport. Qatar Airways is scheduled to start operations next month and more airlines will switch temporarily during 80 days of runway enhancement at DWC starting May 1.
DWC is forecast to manage 160 million passengers a year by 2030.