Ashdod Port, Israel, said it saw an increase of maritime cargo transport because of the closure of aviation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ashdod Port, which continued its vital activity without interruption, has now broken an operational record with the unloading of 1,584,000 (TEU) containers in 2020.
This is a historic all-time record at Israel’s ports, the Port company said in a recent statement.
The overall scope of goods that entered the port was valued at about 108 billion shekels ($33 billion).
“Based on these numbers it appears that contrary to the assumption that the coronavirus would reduce the scope of imports, it appears that private consumption was not harmed. In fact, compared to 2019 there was an increase of a few percentage points,” the statement said.
The Port said that considering the drop in the scope of imported vehicles, these results strengthen the assumption that personal imports increased significantly, especially when it comes to online purchases and orders from international websites.
Based on the data of SHVA, which operates a national credit card payment system, online buyers prefer international websites and there was indeed an increase in this area compared to the previous year.
The increase in imports also brought about unprecedented demand for containers. The increase in commerce and purchases of consumer and food products by the public that was forced to remain at home during various lockdown periods, along with a significant drop in the use of aviation, turned the sea into a central artery for transporting goods and cargo.
Orna Hozman Bechor, Chairman of the Board of Ashdod Port, noted: “The port’s activity during the period of the coronavirus crisis highlights the expertise and dedication of the port employees, as well as the complexity and importance of the national responsibility of operating a seaport in Israel. The aviation shutdown at the start of the coronavirus crisis left Ashdod Port as almost the only source of oxygen for the State of Israel. I am extremely proud that we succeeded to maintain continuous passage of goods, so that no shortage was ever felt”.
Shiko Zana, CEO of the Port Company, adds: “We set an annual record for the scope of containers unloaded, while also breaking an all-time record about two months ago – when in one day we unloaded over 5,000 containers at Ashdod Port. The recent data proves that there has been improvement in the efficiency and quality of the equipment. Thanks to our employees, despite the expected harm caused by the coronavirus pandemic, we were able to overcome this period of crisis and uncertainty and achieve great things. We will continue to provide optimal service to our customers”.