Ports of Auckland posts loss following scrapped automation works

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Two container ships being serviced at the Fergusson Container Terminal

The Ports of Auckland New Zealand has posted a profit net loss as a result of the nixed automation project of the Fergusson Container Terminal.

The net loss of NZ$10.3 million ($6.3 million) on the financial year was down from 2021’s NZ$45.57 million ($27.9 million) profit.

According to the port, the loss was a direct result of the write off of NZ$63.1 million ($38.7 million) in costs capitalised on the project to partially automate the Fergusson Container Terminal. 

The board at the Ports of Auckland made the landmark decision to terminate the automation project and to return the terminal to a manual operation earlier this year.

Revenue increased to NZ$265.3 ($162.6 million), up 17.2 per cent on 2021, while operating costs increased by 12.9 per cent. 

Freight volumes held up well this year, despite the continuing challenging global supply chain and congestion in the New Zealand system.

The port continued to be the largest port for NZ’s imports, handling over 10.8 million tonnes, an increase of 8 per cent on previous year, across containers, bulk cargoes and vehicles.

Container volumes showed a slight decline, with total TEU down 0.8 per cent to 811,565 compared to 818,238 last year.

Earlier this year the Maritime Union of New Zealand, the Rail and Maritime Transport Union, and the New Zealand Merchant Service Guild released a joint statement to demand national stevedoring standards after an employee died at the Ports of Auckland.

On 19 April, 26-year-old Atiroa Tuaiti, an employee of private stevedoring company Wallace Investments, died at Ports of Auckland after a fall aboard a container ship.

On safety, the Construction Health and Safety New Zealand (CHASNZ) report into health and safety practices at the port, released in March 2021, made 45 recommendations for improvement.

“We accepted the urgency to implement and have completed the recommendations, with just two areas, fatigue management and training, requiring longer to implement,” the port wrote in its release.

“These two areas are complex, and we are working in partnership with our people and unions to complete by the end of FY23.”

Forecasting the next year, the port wrote: “We recognise the importance of the port as the key gateway for New Zealand’s imports and we have refocussed our strategy on our core cargo-handling, cruise and marine businesses.

The port expects a net profit NZ$35 million ($21.5 million) for FY23.

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