Greece's Piraeus becomes top container-handling port in Mediterranean


Piraeus is Greece's largest port. (Photo: Xinhua)

ATHENS, May 19 (Xinhua) -- Greece's port of Piraeus handled a total of 5.65 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2019, becoming the top port in the Mediterranean, the Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) said in an e-mailed press statement on Tuesday.

PPA presented its financial figures for last year to the Hellenic Fund and Asset Management Association on Tuesday through a teleconference with the participation of the authority's chief executive officer Captain Fu Chengqiu.

The company, which is majority-owned by China's COSCO Shipping, said that its turnover rose 12.3 percent year-on-year to 149.2 million euros (163.4 million U.S. dollars) in 2019, while operating profits before tax grew 12.5 percent to 47.6 million euros and net earnings increased 27 percent to 35.4 million euros.

"2019 was the most successful year in terms of profitability. The successful financial management also brings additional revenue to the Greek State due to increased concession fees, dividends, insurance contributions, etc. and contributes to the welfare of the local communities," Captain Fu said.

Greece stands to collect 5.4 million euros in concession fees for 2019, up from 4.8 million euros for 2018.

The growth of the port's business continues this year despite the problems in international trade due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Piraeus Port Authority spokesman Nektarios Demenopoulos.

He told Xinhua on Tuesday that "the container handling capacity of the port's three piers has grown by more than 2 percent on an annual basis in the January-April period, while in May figures seem similar to those of last year."

Demenopoulos said that the constant growth of the Greek port is to a large extent thanks to the major support from its parent company that has set Piraeus as its priority, noting the fact that the Chinese trade has increased again after the first quarter of the year, "which clearly benefits PPA."

PPA has already set in motion a multi-million-euro investment plan for Greece's main port that is set to expand its capacity further.

COSCO Shipping acquired a majority stake in PPA in 2016 after an international tender. The Greek state retains a minority stake in PPA.