11 Apr 2014

Port of Auckland about to be #1 again

6:59 am on 11 April 2014

Ports of Auckland looks to be on track to reclaim the title of being New Zealand's largest container port.

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The company handled nearly 80,000 20-foot-equivalents of containers in March, up nearly 17,000 on March last year and also breaking its previous record set last October.

Chief executive Tony Gibson said reaching such a record in March is unusual because normally the pre-Christmas period is his company's busiest.

Solid import volumes and higher exports contributed to the March result.

Mr Gibson said Ports of Auckland's bulk, break-bulk and car volumes also rose in March.

In the year ended June last year, Port of Tauranga handled about 30,000 more 20-foot-equivalents of containers more than Ports of Auckland.

But while Tauranga's container volumes fell nearly 12 percent in the six months ended December, Auckland volumes rose more than 15 percent in the same period.

However, the Port of Tauranga is still more profitable, posting a net profit of $39.3 million for the six months compared with the Auckland company's $26.4 million result.

Mr Gibson said Auckland should be the largest container port, given its geographic location.

He said the volumes are testament to a strong economy and there have been good export volumes as well as a good import season.

"We didn't expect the second half of the year to be as strong, but it seems that we've been proved wrong and the most important thing now is to keep ahead of the demand curve so that's why we're investing in a new key crane, six new straddles, we're also going ahead with a 50-metre extension at Fergusson's."

Mr Gibson said profitability is trending it the right direction.