Ukraine Expects Pre-War Cargo Levels as Container Service Returns

Ukraine container service
Pros Hope opened the service in April and now both Maersk and Hapag have begun offering bookings to customers (Telegram)

Published May 30, 2024 1:21 PM by The Maritime Executive


The Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority is continuing its efforts to expand cargo operations with the latest focus continuing for container traffic. Port officials are expecting to reach pre-war cargo levels this year and now they are also working on resumption of ferry services.

Starting this week, Hapag-Lloyd reports it is offering service every five days from Chernomorsk, Ukraine to Constanta Romania. With partners, Hapag reports it launched starting on May 27 a new feeder service that will also be able to handle reefer boxes. They point out that the feeder service avoids the congested inland routes and the weight restrictions for the over-road service.

Starting in April, Hapag began a river-based service. Ukrainian Danube Shipping had reported that it added larger barges to support the container service. In an advisory to customers, Hapag said the river service capacity however had been filled up almost immediately. The new feeder service they said would provide more options and capacity.

Maersk is also working with a partner to start a feeder service into the Black Sea ports. They, too, had previously been offering a river barge service but reports are that they now plan to phase out the barges for the feeder also going to Constanta.

Two general cargo ships outfitted to transport containers and chartered to a Turkish company started the service at the beginning of April. The first dedicated containership arrived in Ukraine on April 21. The German-managed Pros Hope (14,000 dwt) with a capacity for 1,120 TEU is operated from Chornomorsk.

Ukrainian officials highlighted that they have already handled 10 containership port calls since the service began and they expect the volumes to continue to grow. They are also looking toward direct service to Turkey in the future.

In April, more than 9.9 million tons of cargo moved through Ukraine’s seaports, with 7.7 million tons moving along the sea corridor and the remainder by the Danube. It was nearly twice the volume handled in 2023.

The officials highlighted in the past the ports handled more than 100 million tons of cargo annually. So far, in the first four months of 2024, the ports have handled a total of 37.7 million tons compared to 22 million tons last year. At the current rate, they will significantly exceed the 100-million-ton mark for all of 2024.