FOLLOWING the lifting of mobility restrictions in the third quarter of this year, the shipping industry has continued to intensify operations, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) 7.

In the third quarter of 2021, an even higher number of shipcalls and cargo throughput traffic was recorded in Central Visayas compared to the previous quarter and the same period of 2020.

Shipcalls grew 63.5 percent or 34,481 in the third quarter this year from 29,843 shipcalls in the second quarter and 21,090 shipcalls in the third quarter of 2020.

Container traffic, on the other hand, grew by 5.8 percent in the third quarter to 266,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) from 250,000 TEU in the second quarter and 252,000 TEU in the third quarter of 2020.

Passenger traffic

As for passenger traffic, however, a reduction was noted in the third quarter compared to the second quarter of 2021.

“This could be due to the surge in Covid-19 cases due to the Delta variant which saw the nationwide reimposition of lockdowns that affected mobility,” said Neda 7.

Passenger traffic came in at 1.434 million in the third quarter of this year from 1.789 million in the second quarter. Some 554,000 passengers were recorded in the third quarter of 2020.

In the first quarter of this year, shipcalls, passenger, cargo and container traffic, recorded increased activities from their performances in the fourth quarter in 2020. Their levels, however, remained below pre-Covid levels.

Earlier, the Philippine Coastwise Shipping Association Inc. said the local shipping industry has been losing billions of pesos since the outbreak last year, paralyzing both passenger and cargo volumes.

Cargoes were the ones sustaining the shipping business but its movement has been down by 10 to 20 percent from pre-Covid performance, the group said.

But amid the challenging environment, the local shipping industry is anticipating full recovery early next year, but this will depend on the rollout of the vaccination and the containment of the Covid-19 cases in the country.

Nine months performance

Cargo volume handled by Philippine ports for the first nine months of 2021 grew 12.6 percent as both domestic and foreign cargoes registered increases during the period, according to the preliminary data from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

Foreign cargoes increased 18.2 percent to 127.652 million metric tons (MT) in the first nine months of the year from 108.014 million MT year-on-year.

Domestic cargoes expanded four percent to 72.399 million MT from 69.643 million MT.

In terms of region, Luzon contributed 52 percent to the total cargo volume, followed by Mindanao with 32 percent and Visayas with 16 percent.

Shipcalls in the first nine months of 2021 were nine percent higher at 268,785 vessels from 246,776 vessels in the same period in 2020.

For full-year 2021, the PPA forecasts a five percent increase in cargo volume across all operational areas, but this is lower than the seven percent increase forecast last March. Container volume is predicted to grow by six to eight percent for the full year.