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Westports optimistic of achieving double-digit volume growth this year

Westports optimistic of achieving double-digit volume growth this year
The executive chairman of Malaysian port operator Westports Holdings G Gnanalingam is optimistic of posting an 11% growth in volume this year despite the challenges and changes that are taking place in the shipping industry, local reports said.

“We are optimistic to chart double-digit growth this year despite the changes in shipping alliances. Southeast Asia shipping still has a lot of room to grow,” Gnanalingam was quoted as saying.

Earlier reports saw Westports anticipating single-digit growth due to uncertainty in the global economy.

Westports’ container operations handled 4.9m teu in the first half and of this, transhipment containers increased to 3.6m teu while the group handled 1.3m teu of gateway containers

Last year, the port operator handled 9.1m teu a growth rate of 8% year-on-year from the previous year.

Among the key developments in the shipping industry that may affect Westports are the realignments next year as key liners in existing container shipping alliances form new and different alliances next year.

Critically, Westports’ major main line operator, French liner CMA CGM, could potentially shift some of its shipping traffic from Westports to Singapore following its takeover of Singapore line Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) to expand its presence in trans-Pacific routes.

Old hand Gnanalingam noted that the consolidation going on in the liner industry is nothing new and to be expected.

“It all started when shipping lines were in the big race to increase their market share, building ships when freight rates were at the peak prior to the global economic downturn in 2009. They assumed the volume was going to grow and were more interested in market share than profit.

“But this is nothing new in the shipping industry. The problem now is still oversupply and undercutting. At the end of the day, the stronger will get bigger and the weak will be taken over,” he concluded.