Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Ireland's volume decline slows

The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) has claimed the rate of decline in Irish freight volumes slowed in the third quarter of the year, but warned operators should expect a challenging winter.
IMDO statistics show third quarter lo-lo traffic slipped 20% year-on-year to 268,000teu and ro-ro volumes fell 8% 385,000 units.
However, the IMDO pointed out this was an improvement on half-year figures, when lo-lo volumes were 24% down year-on-year and ro-ro traffic was 13% down.
It said: “While all market segments have not returned to the previous 30 month volume lows that were recorded earlier this year, the severe volume deterioration that has occurred over this period is likely to result in traffic volumes returning to pre 2003 levels by the end of this year."
It added: “Depressed freight rates, lower volume demand coupled with increases in fuel and bunker costs will provide a challenging environment for shipping operators over the winter months.
“Underlying weaker domestic consumer demand is likely to continue to suppress import volumes while the strength of the euro against the dollar and sterling will continue to put pressure on export volumes to our key markets.”
The IMDO said container volumes have slumped over the past 18 months because of an “abrupt correction in consumer demand and slowdown in the domestic construction sector”.
It added Christmas demand had resulted in a slight rise in imports, by 5% in September compared to August, and exports were up 22% between September and August.
IMDO said these seasonal factors were absent in 2008 when volumes continued to fall at an accelerated rate of decline from the middle of the year.
Overall it forecast a total decline of 23% in lo-lo volumes to the year-end.
Meanwhile, volumes on direct continental ro-ro routes increased year-on-year by 64% to 8,044 units in the third quarter of 2009, because of an increase in the number of direct services on offer.
Overall in the ro-ro sector, 35,000 less freight units were carried on all routes when compared to same quarter in 2008.
The IMDO also estimated that total available capacity reduced by 13% in the third quarter, which has been implemented by a reduction of frequency on certain routes and reduction in vessel sizes, while the price of bunker fuel has doubled since the beginning of 2009.


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