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Hamburg takes extra measures against COVID-19 amid grim 2020 forecast

In the current financial year, Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) expects to record strong decreases in revenue and earnings due to the dramatic changes in the macroeconomic environment caused by the global COVID-19 crisis.

This year will be in stark contrast to 2019, which HHLA has reported was a successful financial year. In particular, HHLA says that despite a significant deterioration in the market environment especially in the second half of the year, group revenue increased by 7.1% to €1.38 billion – US$1.5 billion.

Furthermore, in the previous year container transport saw an increase of 8.3% in the group’s operating result (EBIT), reaching €221.2 million (US$239.5 million), while HHLA’s box throughput recorded a moderate gain, due to the integration of the Estonian terminal operator HHLA TK Estonia in 2018 and a slight growth at the Hamburg terminals.

As a result of the strong 2019 and the virus affected 2020, the expectations are for a significant decrease in income.

“It is not possible to make any reliable forecasts under these conditions, but we can assume that revenue and the operating result (EBIT) for the Port Logistics subgroup will be strongly below previous year,” HHLA highlights.

Angela Titzrath, Chairwoman of HHLA’s Executive Board, commented, “The economic shocks of the coronavirus pandemic present us with a challenge of a magnitude never seen before. We stand by our long-term targets, irrespective of changes in the macroeconomic environment.”

Meanwhile, the Port of Hamburg, as with all the ports worldwide, is trying to minimise the impact of the coronavirus. It is for this reason that the German port announced a fees deferral for lease holders at the port, in an effort to help the port customers shore up their businesses in the face of the virus.

All tenants of the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) in the port of Hamburg can apply for the interest-free moratorium of the building- and land lease for the months April, May and June, according to a statement. Payments can be deferred until December 31, 2020.

Michael Westhagemann, Senator for Economics, stated, “The Port of Hamburg must continue to operate without restrictions, even in the most difficult times. That is why we help the port companies – in addition to the rescue package put in place by the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg for all companies affected by the Corona crisis throughout Hamburg – inter alia through the deferral of leases and fees.”

The port of Hamburg will additionally defer charges to ocean carriers, inland shipping companies and port skippers who are able to request a moratorium on port dues, also for the months of April, May and June. This deferral will also be granted until December 31, 2020.

In the case of berth occupancy charges, and in particular environmentally friendly vessels, ships will be relieved to a considerable extent, the port adds. The decisive factor here, is the so-called tier-level of the ship, an international emission classification. From 17 March to 30 June 2020 the following extended rebates are applicable to all ocean-going vessels for their laytime:

  • 100% rebate for vessels that  have continuously obtained shore power from renewable energy in the port
  • 90% rebate for tier-3 vessels and/or vessels that have obtained shore power,
  • 50% rebate for tier-2 vessels
  • 20% rebate for tier-1 vessels
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