We have not sought the best results in history, but resilience. “This is how the president of the Port of Barcelona, Merce Conesa, summarized the economic balance of the Catalan infrastructure for 2020. Even though the Port Authority closed the year with a profit of 17 million euros, the figure is 63% less than the 44 million the previous year. The crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has had a strong impact on the activity of the organization, whose income fell by 20% to 139 million, which means going back to 2006 billing levels. In the presentation of the results, Conesa explained that even though 2020 was “very complicated”, since the last two months of last year the traffic rates have been on the rise, a rate that has been maintained during the first weeks of 2021 For this reason, he foresees this to be “a year of the lever for economic reactivation.
The president has argued that the impact that the pandemic has had on the Port, estimated at 34 million euros, has been due both to the reduction in income due to the fall in the traffic of goods and passengers and to the measures that were implemented to mitigate the effects of the crisis on the concession companies, among which is the postponement of the payment of fees. Restrictions on mobility due to the health crisis had a very noticeable impact on traffic data. The number of passengers fell by 81.5%, to 858,000 people, mainly due to the suspension of cruise ships. The year closed with 199,000 cruise passengers [the majority arrived during the first quarter], 93.7% less than in 2019. For their part, ferries had a smaller drop, the number of passengers fell by 55.8% and was left at 659,000. After almost a year of paralysis, Conesa has asked for “clear protocols to reactivate the cruise activity” and trusts that this will take place during the next summer.
The total traffic of the Port of Barcelona fell by 11.9%, from 67.9 million tons in 2019 to 59.5 in 2020. However, exports managed to resist with a year-on-year decrease of 0.5%, especially thanks to the increase in the food sector, while imports fell by 10.9%. The general director of the Port Authority, Jose Alberto Carbonell, explained that the increase in pork exports to China and other Asian countries has been one of the keys to sustaining the volume of traffic. The Asia and Oceania market is the largest receiver of goods from the Port of Barcelona, with 48.5% of the total, while America represents 21%; Africa, 18.5%, and Europe, 12%. One of the sectors that registered a significant drop in traffic was that of new vehicles, with a 38.2% decrease that is explained by the pandemic and by the progressive change in mobility models, something that already caused last year a steep decline, especially due to the reduction in Nissan’s activity.
The entity’s data allows us to differentiate three very marked periods in 2020: the first quarter without Covid effects, a very negative behavior between April and October, and a turning point in the final stretch of the year with signs of recovery. Even though they had planned to recover the 2019 figures in three years, the managers of the Port Authority trust that the dynamics of 2021 will allow them to achieve this objective in a shorter period. In 2020, EBITDA was 70 million euros [30% less than the previous year], cash flow, 66 million [down 32%], and long-term bank debt, 161 million [10% less], data that allow us to speak of “financial robustness”, according to the deputy director-general of the economic area, Miriam Alaminos.
Grimaldi will expand its Barcelona terminal
The Port of Barcelona approved on Wednesday to extend the concession granted to Grimaldi Terminal Barcelona with two new spaces, located at the Contradique dock, in which the Italian company will invest more than four million euros to improve its operations. The terminal of the shipping group, located on the Costa dock and with an area of 64,221 square meters, will incorporate a contiguous 27,522 square meter land, extending the concession for six more years to the 15 it already had. The commitment includes Grimaldi making a continuous investment in its machinery, which will consist of renewing 10 of the tractor units every five years.
On the other hand, the Barcelona Port Authority has granted Baleària an eight-year concession to install a temporary maritime station for passengers that will have 453 square meters and a 2,687 square meter car park. This space will be destined for passengers who embark with a private vehicle at the Adosado dock to improve the services that the company offers between the Catalan capital and the Balearic Islands. The concession is expected to be temporary until Baleària can have a new maritime station in the south of the dock to operate all of its ships that call in Barcelona.