Revenues at the Port of Cork Company declined €4 million last year but the company said its overall performance exceeded expectations when set against the backdrop of the pandemic.
Port of Cork Company, including Bantry Bay Port Company, reported a total consolidated traffic throughput of 10.5 million tonnes in 2020 compared with 10.1 million in 2019.
Its consolidated turnover for 2020 amounted to €33.7 million, a decrease of 10.47 per cent or €4 million. The profit after taxation for the financial year amounted to €4.7 million.
Strong traffic volumes were due in part to the commencement of two new shipping services from Ringaskiddy in 2020, and an 81 per cent increase to 1.3 million metric tonnes at Bantry Bay Port Oil storage at the Zenith Energy Whiddy Island storage facility.
While Bantry Bay Port Oil Storage increased, throughput at Whitegate oil refinery decreased slightly.
While traditional load-on-load-off (lo-lo) container volumes trended lower, the overall volumes of containers handled by the port increased 4 per cent to a record 250,209 TEU.
This growth, which trended toward new shipping modes in response to Brexit and the commencement of a direct container and roll-on-roll-off (Con-Ro) service from Ringaskiddy to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.
The port also reported that dry bulk cargo, primarily agri-products (animal feed, cereals and fertilisers), increased by 2.5 per cent to 1.42 million tonnes.
Conor Mowlds, chief commercial officer, said the port’s trade in 2020 reduced during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the areas most impacted being cruise traffic and the reduced passenger ferry sailings.
“However, container traffic, bulk trade, Whitegate oil refinery and Whiddy oil storage facility all continued to trade successfully in 2020, which was ahead of our expectations. From the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic the port was designated an essential service, and thanks to the work of our entire team, we were able to keep imports and exports moving, without any delays in our operations.”
“The Covid-19 pandemic ensured that 2020 was a challenging year for the company, both financially and from an operational perspective,” he said.
"The impact on the tourist industry worldwide was particularly stark, and in our case it resulted in the loss of 98 cruise liner calls, a primary factor in our reduced turnover. In addition, Brittany Ferries Ro-Pax services were severely impacted due to Covid-19 passenger travel restrictions."
The company said it was looking forward to the awaited completion of its newly developed Cork container terminal in Ringaskiddy, the continued growth of its presence in the Con-Ro space with the introduction of a Grimaldi service to Belgium, and that it remained optimistic about the return of cruise ships to Cork some time in 2022.