Ferry News

Forget the gloomy figures ... the numbers still add up for the Port of Dunkirk

Nine per cent drop in passenger numbers; seven per cent drop in tourist vehicles; not the kind of figures one would expect the Port of Dunkirk to celebrate. But as far as 2016 is concerned, the powers that be are quite happy, thank you.

That’s because the statistics were being compared with 2015 which was a record-breaking year for its primary ferry operator, DFDS, and continued a three-year growth trend.

Port of Dunkirk
The Port of Dunkirk failed to match the heady heights of 2015’s ferry traffic in 2016

The situation was explained to SeaView over lunch in Lille by the port’s chief commercial officer, Daniel Deschodt, who said the 2016 figures may be overshadowed by 2015 but look extremely good when put alongside the figures for 2014.

“It may not look so good on paper but historically the figures stand up very well,” he added.

Earlier, at a news conference to unveil the full performance of the Port of Dunkirk, its CEO, Stéfane Raison, made little to no reference to the ferry operations other than to state that passenger numbers fell 9 per cent to 2.92 million, tourist vehicles were down 8 per cent at 751,000 and trucks and trailers fell 2 per cent to 680,000.

On the plus side, annual traffic for 2016, taking in the transporting of general cargoes, bulk solids and bulk liquids, was 46.7 million tons - an increase of 0.3 per cent on 2015.

This does not mean the port escaped the effects of the economic climate in 2016, the worst of these including the technical shutdowns, for maintenance, of the ArcelorMittal steel works blast furnace No. 4 and the Versalis petrochemicals plant, the permanent closure of SRD (Société de la Raffi nerie de Dunkerque) and the delayed opening of the LNG terminal. In addition, grain exports were hit by a poor harvest since the summer.

Asked whether a downturn was anticipated in 2017 in the wake of the Brexit vote, M Raison hedged his bets, saying: “I have no crystal ball but we do not expect that Brexit will affect us very much, if at all.”

Daniel Deschodt agreed, and told SeaView: “The traffic with the UK is enormous and we do not see that changing.”

Posted on 14th January 2017 at 04:34 pm in Ferry Operators | DFDS Seaways | Ferry News |

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