Westports warns of lasting COVID-19 effects

The iconic twin spires of the Petronas Towers glittering against the blue dusk sky above the ponds of KLCC Park and Suria KLCC in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's vibrant capital city. ProPhoto RGB profile for maximum color fidelity and gamut.

Westports Holdings Berhad (Westports) suffered a drop in TEU throughput in the first quarter of 2020, as its transshipment volume fell by 8% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, In its latest financial results the Malaysian port said its revenue increased by 14% to $109 million, even though its TEU volume as a whole did not change.

Despite its losses in transshipment TEU, it saw its gateway volume increase by 14% as it continued to be a vital driver of trade for Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

Furthermore, it warned that volume will not fully recover to pre-COVID-19 levels in 2020, even if it does increase slightly throughout the year.

“Although Westports container volume is only slightly lower in the 1st Quarter of 2020, we expect the major effects of the Covid-19 pandemic to hit us in April and continue throughout the 2nd Quarter of 2020,” said Datuk Ruben Emir Gnanalingam, Group Managing Director of Westports.

“Malaysia, Singapore, South East Asia, and countries further abroad, from India to the European Union and North America, have various lockdown arrangements or movement restrictions in the 2nd Quarter of 2020 that would have severely curtailed economic activities from consumption to investments to production related activities.

“This reduction in consumption and capital expenditure at this scale is bound have an impact on all ports worldwide.”

“While we are hopeful for some recovery in the second half of the year, the Company does not expect container throughput to register an overall increase for the year 2020.

“The severity of the volume contraction would depend on how protracted the Covid-19 pandemic is going to be and how social and economic activities adjust to a post-lockdown world. The world is unlikely to be able to consume in the way it used to and it might take a while for it to get to the consumption levels of 2019”.

Malaysia is one of the fastest growing nations in the maritime world and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was broke numerous shipping records.

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