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Smooth transition

By Graeme Kennedy

Friday 28th February 2003

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Ports of Auckland, after years of preparation and training and millions of dollars investment in new equipment, is receiving the new generation of super-freighters and handling container exchanges of up to 3000 with ease.

CEO Geoff Vazey said the port had had no problems turning the 4100 20ft-equivalent (TEU) capacity vessels around with all 10 ­ seven operated by P&O Nedlloyd and three by Contship ­ now calling at Auckland.

"We said in July we were ready for them and now we are doing it after years of work getting cranes, training staff and dredging berths," Mr Vazey said. "Our biggest container exchange has been 3000 but they are averaging 2000 with these vessels compared with the average 500 across all ships here and less than 100 at other New Zealand ports."

The final phase of port development for the big ships is dredging the Rangitoto Channel, a $40 million project scheduled to start next year.

Mr Vazey said an 11% rise in containers trans-shipped to other international ports indicated Auckland was growing as a hub port. Container movements were 59% imports and 41% exports.

He said container volumes during the half year to December rose 11% to more than 334,000 TEUs, an increase that drove the port's operating revenues up 8% to $75.5 million for an operating profit of $32.1 million, also up 8%.

Container volumes continue to grow with a 7% rise to 629,900 in the 12 months to the end of January.

Mr Vazey said the growth was economy-driven with a high foreign exchange rate and strong immigration, particularly into Auckland where new migrants, returning New Zealanders and foreign students were spending on imported goods.

He said North Tugz, a new joint venture with Northport to provide marine services on Whangarei Harbour, would begin from April 1.

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