19 Aug 2010

Importers 'getting in ahead of peak season'

5:18 pm on 19 August 2010

The head of New Zealand's largest port says a strong pick-up in container volumes may be due to importers getting in early, before capacity is constrained during the peak of the season.

Most shipping lines cut container stocks and shipping routes during the downturn, and rebuilding capacity is, in some cases, taking a while.

Securing container spaces proved difficult at some New Zealand ports during the height of the export season, and a shortage of shipping containers continues to create headaches for some shipping lines.

Container volumes at Ports of Auckland picked up 3% in the year to the end of June, which helped the company to return a record profit of $37.2 million.

Ports of Auckland's managing director, Jens Madsen, says that pickup is showing signs of continuing, with the port handling 15% more containers in July.

But he says the containers are being delivered by larger ships, making fewer calls, which is creating volatility.

Mr Madsen says some importers appear to have decided to ship goods before the normal peak time for imports, between September and the end October

He says fewer cruise liners called in to Auckland last year but expects this to pick up coming year.