May 27, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Houthi attacks cause heavy damage to Piraeus port


In recent weeks, Iran-backed Houthi rebels have stepped up their attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea, which they have fired missiles or drones at.

“In this way they demonstrate their solidarity with the Palestinians and support Hamas,” writes the financial magazine Handelsblatt. “But these attacks have a serious impact on shipping between Asia and Europe.”

Piraeus, “Which is the largest container port in the Mediterranean is actually taking the biggest hit. […] Piraeus is also the first major port of call for cargo ships arriving in Europe after crossing the Suez Canal. From Piraeus the containers are then transported to Europe. In 2023, “Piraeus was the fourth largest container handling center in Europe after Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg,” writes a German newspaper.

But the crisis in the Red Sea should change that. “Ships carrying containers from the Far East are arriving in Piraeus weeks late or not at all as they route around the Cape of Good Hope and unload cargo at North Sea ports.”

Before the crisis “30% of international container traffic passed through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), 18 shipping companies are now avoiding this route, including the largest German shipping company Hapag-Lloyd. France’s CMA CGM, China’s Cosco Container Lines , Taiwan’s Evergreen Line and Hong Kong’s OOCL have dropped Piraeus from most of their weekly Asia-Europe routes, also opting for a route around the Cape of Good Hope into Northern Europe.”

Cargo ships from other companies choose Piraeus “as the last port of call before returning around Africa to the Far East.” Greece and other Mediterranean countries are already experiencing delays in the delivery of clothing, shoes, household and electronic appliances, and cars from Asia.

These events also put pressure on China, which, “on the one hand, he does not want to side with the West on the issue of the conflict in Gaza.” However, on the other hand, Beijing, which is the operator of the port of Piraeus and the supplier of many goods transshipped there, is interested in the speedy restoration of normal navigation in the Red Sea. This is why Western diplomats believe that “Beijing is trying behind the scenes to end rebel attacks.”.

Greek shipowners, who control 1/5 of the world’s tonnage (dwt), are also benefiting from the crisis. EThere are also those who benefit from new data. As Handelsblatt explains, “Longer travel times mean less capacity and therefore higher fares. […] And shipping companies benefit from this.” Since mid-December, AP Moller-Maersk’s share price has risen by 30% and Hapag-Lloyd’s by 51%.



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