German shipping industry ‘heavily impacted’ by coronavirus pandemic

BERLIN (Xinhua) – Revenues of German shipping companies declined by 30 to 40 per cent on average in March and April, according to a company survey published by the German Shipowners’ Association (VDR) on Tuesday.

At the same time, 44 per cent of shipping companies were already recording a “substantial impairment” of their liquidity, according to the survey among 50 shipping companies, including almost all of the 30 biggest shipping enterprises from Germany.

“The consequences of the coronavirus pandemic are becoming increasingly severe for the German maritime shipping sector,” VDR noted.

“Cruise and ferry shipping were severely impacted by the pandemic right from the outset,” said President of the VDR Alfred Hartmann, adding that the survey showed “clearly” that almost all areas of the industry segment were “being heavily impacted”.

The German shipping industry had already lost around 1,500 ships to other countries after the financial crisis of 2008/09, one third of the fleet at the time. “Substantial segments of the German merchant fleet are foreseeably endangered in their existence,” warned Hartmann.

If production and consumption worldwide would not recover soon, “the consequences of the pandemic could be far more severe than the financial crisis” for Germany’s shipping industry and could endanger tens of thousands of jobs, VDR warned.

Although short-time work was also registered in German shipping companies, the survey showed that lay-offs were currently not planned by over 90 per cent of companies.