Port of Kiel: Passenger Traffic Grows, Cargo Slows

Credit: Port of Kiel
Credit: Port of Kiel

Published Jan 17, 2019 3:57 PM by The Maritime Executive

Germany's Port of Kiel continues to pursue its growth course in passenger traffic posting a 4.2 percent increase with 2.2 million travelers. However, the port’s cargo sector faced a decrease of 3.5 percent to 7.15 tons of cargo in 2018. 

Dr. Dirk Claus, the Managing Director of the Port of Kiel, said: “After two years of very strong growth, the result in the freight sector of the port of Kiel is somewhat weaker this time. However, in economic terms, this is compensated by the growing passenger traffic.” 

Cruise Growth

Last year, the Port of Kiel hosted 169 cruise ship visits, up from 143 in 2017 - an increase of 15.3 percent and an increase in passenger numbers of 16.5 percent. This year, total gross tonnage will increase to over 15 million and the number of passengers could reach 620,000. 

The most frequent guests this season will be the ships of AIDA/Costa, TUI Cruises and MSC with AIDA and TUI Cruises calling at the port with four different vessels each. The biggest cruise ship this year will be the 171,600 ton MSC Meraviglia which has capacity for 5,700 passengers. Nieuw Statendam and AIDAprima will visit for the first time.

Ferry Traffic

Ferry services are the core business of the port and with six million tons of cargo, they makes up 80 percent of the port's overall transhipment activities. While the liner services to Norway (+2.3 percent) and to the Baltic States (+1.6 percent) showed growth, cargo dropped by 10 percent on the Kiel – Gothenburg route. This was partly due to a long layover at the shipyard for Stena Scandinavica at the beginning of last year, as she was fitted with a modern exhaust gas cleaning system and was not available for service during that time. 

The weekly liner service to and from Russia remained constant due to continuing mutual restrictions on trade. The bulk cargo handling sector concluded the year with a drop of 2.0 percent. The biggest single volume was handled on the Kiel – Klaipeda service by DFDS. Since the inauguration of the SCA Terminal in autumn 2016, over 1.5 million tons of paper products from Sweden's SCA and Iggesund have been transhipped via the terminal in Kiel.

Intermodal Transport

The Color Line shipping company expanded its cargo business with the ferry Color Carrier on the Kiel – Oslo route. The roro-freighter offers three round trips a week which complement the daily departures of the large passenger ferries. Claus said the additional ferry offers the potential to increase the cargo volume handled at Norwegenkai by more than 500,000 tons in the medium-term. Norwegenkai has been integrated into the schedule of the Hamurg-Billwerder train shuttle which reaches all national combined transhipment stations overnight. In the past year, nearly 29,000 trailers and containers were loaded onto wagons in Kiel. The train connection to Trieste was, however, suspended and the planned milestone of 30,000 units was not be reached. 

“Through the integration of the Norwegenkai into the rail schedule, the intermodal volumes will grow again this year,” says Claus. In order to promote the competitiveness of the rail freight transport, two infrastructure expansion projects are underway: the shunting station will be upgraded and a third track will be built at Schwedenkai.

Expansion and Environmental Protection

The Port of Kiel is currently investing over 30 million Euros ($34 million) in port expansion and environmental protection. The port apron at Ostuferhafen will be redesigned by spring to optimize logistics and the hard standing space for trucks, trailers and cars will be expanded.

The port's first shore power system is also under construction. The plant, which will supply eco-friendly electricity to Color Line vessels, will be completed by Easter. A Europe-wide tender for other shore power systems to be installed at Ostseekai and Schwedenkai is being prepared. Ultimately, the port aims to cover some 60 percent of the energy needed by the vessels calling at Kiel with shore power. 

The port is building a second terminal for cruise passengers. The new 3,700 m² building will be adjacent to the existing one so that when two cruise ships call at Ostseekai Terminal there will be a dedicated building for each ship.