Container ship moored at quay 9 in Malaga Port / FRANCIS SILVA

Malaga Port breaks records for cargo ship traffic

Activity has increased by almost 80 per cent so far this year, making it the fastest-growing facility in Spain

IGNACIO LILLO

In the first half of the year, Malaga Port has been the Spanish port with the highest relative growth, almost 80 per cent; and it has done so for the second consecutive year.

The city's docks are being used by more and larger ships, thanks to both the recovery of cruise ships and the arrival of large container ships, according to the president of the Port Authority, Carlos Rubio, who describes it as an "exceptional year". In terms of total cargo, almost three million tonnes have been moved, which is an absolute record, double the volume of 2019 (the last year before the pandemic). Solid bulk cargoes stood out, rising by almost 30 per cent to 825,658 tonnes, especially cereals and flour for animal feed, compared with a stabilisation of minerals (cement, clinker and dolomite).

As for containers, there is an 83 per cent increase in terms of the number of units (teus); but above all there is a 185 per cent increase in terms of the tonnes stowed (1.8 million). Rubio explains the increase is because the containers now come with cargo, thanks to the four regular lines for import and export that connect with the United States and the Caribbean, Northern Europe, India and Australia. Previously, the port was mainly used for the transit of empty containers.

Regarding cruise passengers, almost 100,000 tourists have already passed through the port this year, which half the number for 2019. This is due to the fact that there are still some Covid restrictions on cruises, so the occupancy of the ships is around 55 per cent. The stopover forecast points to a full recovery in 2023.

Investment plans for the next five years include, among other projects, the enhancement of the lighthouse, which will undergo a complete restoration and a museum on the history of the port and navigation will be created in the old lighthouse keeper's dwelling.

José Moyano, director of the Port, said that the evolution of the quays and the size of the ships now docking means that a new lighthouse will have to be installed, which will be located at the end of the Morro de Levante, although this is still in the planning stage and without any timeframe.