Drewry: Smaller Ports Offer Equal or Better Liner Connectivity?

Smaller ports can equal or better the liner connectivity of larger ones at times, a new global container port connectivity index from shipping consultancy Drewry shows.

Among the top 20 global ports, which use this new methodology, Shanghai has the highest index figure, being directly connected by services to all world regions, and having the highest number of mainline services calling per week with 168 in total. As the world’s largest container port, it is not surprising that Shanghai tops the table.

Given the scale of the container port industry in Asia, and the extent of major gateway and hub ports, Drewry said that it is also not surprising that nine of the top ten ports are in Asia.

The tenth place is occupied by the North European port of Rotterdam, but with a connectivity index score of only around one-third that of Shanghai.

The regular index of port connectivity was launched in order to rank and monitor how well connected the world’s container ports are, without taking into account vessel size. Hence, even though a large port with the same range of shipping services, but with larger ships, is likely to generate more port volume overall, its connectivity index may be no better than a smaller port with the same range of liner services.

Taking a regional focus, and using North America as an example, the top four slots are all taken by East Coast ports, with Savannah in first place by virtue of having the best combination of mainline service calls per week and world regions directly served.

Los Angeles, the largest port in the North American region, is only sixth in the table, while Long Beach, the second largest, is not in the top 10 at all. This is because ports concentrated on one or two trade routes will not score as highly as those with a wider range of regions served directly.

Similarly, in the UK, London Gateway scores higher than Felixstowe and Southampton, even though it only has around a quarter of the throughput of Felixstowe and less than half of Southampton.

With this new analysis, which focuses on the number of mainline services calling at each port per week and the number of world regions with which each port is directly connected, Drewry will track the ports gaining or losing the most connectivity each quarter, and seek to explain why and what the implications are.

“For shippers, port connectivity is as important as port size or scale. Having the widest possible range of direct services is a significant competitive advantage for all ports,” Drewry concluded.

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