Bulk and Cruise Sectors Boost Marseilles Fos Growth

Bulk trades led January-November cargo throughput to 89.53 million tonnes at the port of Marseilles Fos – a 2% rise on the first 11 months last year – while passenger results were marked by a 29% rise in cruise numbers.

Increases in oil, dry bulk and liquid bulk traffic left general cargo as the only sector behind for the period with a 12% drop to 14MT. This halved the downturn recorded to the end of September – which followed first-half strike action over French port reforms – but confirmed the impact of the subsequent world financial crisis.

Container traffic bore the brunt of the general cargo slump. Tonnage fell 16% to 7.7MT while units were down 15% to 774,519 teu. This included a 21% decline in east-west trades via Fos, which handled 519,518 teu. The Marseilles harbour area finished just 2% down on 255,001 teu thanks to the stability of Mediterranean trades.

Ro-ro traffic added 4MT to the general cargo total, a 1% rise due to volumes on eastern Mediterranean and North Africa services, but conventional trades ended 15% worse on 2.3MT as reduced demand for steel products felt the added effects of motor industry cutbacks.

Oil volumes were up 3% to 58.5MT, with crude imports rising 4% to 42MT on the back of French, German and Swiss refinery demand and refined products improving 2% to 11.1MT. LNG traffic slipped 1% to 3.7MT and while LPG was 5% down on 1.7MT.

Exceptional coal imports in October and November helped dry bulks to a 12% rise for the 11 months on 13.5MT. Driven by chemicals trade, liquid bulks also improved 12% to reach 3.4MT, with biofuels contributing 0.8MT after a 57% increase.

Passenger volumes nudged 1% ahead to 1.98 million as cruise numbers soared 29% to 530,000 and compensated for a 6% fall in ferry carryings. The cruise total was bolstered by a bumper weekend in October, with 14,000 visitors on eight ships, and another in November, with 12,000 passengers on seven ships. The 11 months to the end of November saw a 52% rise in ‘home port’ passengers and a 22% increase for those in transit.

Ferry passenger numbers were stable for Corsica (827,000) and Tunisia (245,000) but airline competition, tighter customs controls and the general economy saw Algeria services 19% down on 349,000.

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