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Ports of Auckland makes recovery

By Graeme Kennedy

Friday 21st July 2000

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Ports of Auckland has reported a strong year with cargo volumes up 1.2% to 12.8 million tonnes and container traffic recovering the Australia New Zealand Direct Line trade lost to Tauranga.

ANZDL took its 50,000 20-ft equivalent unit (TEU) business to the Bay of Plenty port a year ago to become the first major customer for Tauranga's inland port operation at Onehunga.

Ports of Auckland CEO Geoff Vazey said container volumes had remained steady in the year to June at 525,000 TEUs - just 1000 units below the previous year for underlying growth of around 8%.

"It is very pleasing that we have maintained container volumes in spite of the significant change in the market," Mr Vazey said.

"In June last year (ANZDL) opted to shift a large part of its container business away from Auckland.

"But Auckland-calling shipping lines have maintained their share of the import trade and that business has remained with us and grown steadily.

"We have held on to high-value cargoes in spite of stiff opposition from other ports and this has had a positive impact on our overall profitability.

"There were strong import volumes in the second half of 1999," he said.

"While this was fuelled by the domestic retail trade, business moves to stockpile inventory and prepare for the potential computer problems during the year 2000 changeover may also have been a factor.

"The drop in the exchange rate has since then affected import volumes apart from vehicle imports."

Breakbulk cargoes increased 4.3% to 4.4 million tonnes, including 140,300 vehicles compared with 135,300 in 1999.

Ship calls increased from 2033 to 2181, including 117 at Marsden Point where Ports of Auckland handles pilotage and towing for Coastal Tankers vessels with its subsidiary, North Tugz.

Mr Vazey said the company had restructured all key operational areas and reduced fixed costs to enable a more effective response to changing market conditions and cargo flows.

"While we have passed on much of the benefits to our shipping line customers, these improvements and the success of our business growth initiatives mean we can look forward to a strong financial performance this year," Mr Vazey said.

Ports of Auckland will announce its financial results on August 22.

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