In the first quarter of 2020, the total traffic in Zeebrugge grows with 34.3% compared to the same period last year. In total, 14,388,471 tonnes of cargo was handled. The increase in LNG-traffics (+293.7%) is the major reason for this growth.
The roll-on/roll-off traffics decrease with 12.1% to a volume of 3,817,155 tonnes. The routes to the United Kingdom in particular experience a decrease in volume. The Brexit deadline on the 31st of March last year caused a stock build-up up to that date. Consequently, traffic numbers were exceptionally high in the first quarter of 2019.
In total, 660,134 new cars were handled. This is a decrease of 15.6% compared to the first quarter of 2019. This is partially due to the COVID-19-crisis, as many automobile producers halted their production in March 2020. The activity of garages and dealers also declined, meaning the demand for new cars came to a stand still.
The container traffic sees a growth of 15.9% compared to the first quarter of 2019. The total volume of handled containers by the port is 4,432,001 tonnes (439,846 TEU, +11,1%). The deepsea terminal CSP experienced 6 blank sailings in March due to the COVID-19-crisis in China. Despite these cancellations, the port still notes an increase in container traffic for this first quarter. The reason for this is that CSP Zeebrugge has only been included in the rotation of the two new deepsea services of the Ocean Alliance since the second quarter of 2019.
The total volume of handled liquid bulk rises significantly with 174.0% from 2,041,766 to 5,594,858 tonnes. As mentioned earlier, these numbers are mostly the result of the increase in LNG-traffics (+293.7%). 73 LNG-ships were handled at the Fluxys terminal in Zeebrugge, compared to 24 last year.
The solid bulk rises with 35.7% to 371.795 tonnes. In this category we note an increase in the volumes of sand, grind and livestock feed.
The handling of breakbulk declines with 24.4% to 172,662 tonnes. The main reason for this decline is the fact that forest products are more often transported via containers and are no longer counted as breakbulk.
The COVID-19-crisis can be felt in the passenger movements as well, as they decrease with 33.7% to the total of 57,709. Regarding the P&O ferry line connecting Zeebrugge and Hull (-39.1% passenger movements), the decision was made to limit the transportation on the ferries solely to cargo (11th of March). From the 28th of March onward, P&O also cancelled one of its two ships. The amount of cruise ship calls declines from 8 in 2019 to 5 in 2020. On the 11th of March the last cruise ship of this quarter arrived in Port of Zeebrugge. During this period many cruise shipping companies cancelled their departures, causing a standstill in the number of calls.
Furthermore, the COVID-19-crisis translates itself in less shifts for port workers (-7.2% in the number of shifts).