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The Dubai-based global ports and marine services operator, DP World, handled 17.5 million teu across its global portfolio in the first three months of 2019. This was a decline of 0.6% compared with equivalent 2018 figures.

The company reports that its facilities in the UAE handled 3.5 million teu in the first quarter, down by almost 9% compared with the same three months of 2018. This is attributed to challenging macro-economic factors and the loss of lower margin cargo. The group does however report healthy growth in container traffic elsewhere in the Middle East and Subcontinent region, with strong performances in Sokhna, Egypt, and Mumbai, India.

Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem commented: “In the UAE, the volume weakness is mainly due to loss of low margin throughput, as our focus remains on profitable cargo. While we expect the recent trends to continue into the second quarter, we do expect an improvement in the second half of the year.”

In recent weeks DP World has officially launched a new international joint venture, with SMS Group, that aims to change the way that containers are handled in ports. Boxbay is a high-density container storage system that will be ready in time for the Dubai Expo 2020 with a pilot project scheduled at Jebel Ali Terminal 4.

The rack structure of the system permits containers to be stored up to eleven stories high, delivering the capacity of a conventional terminal in a third of the surface area. Fully automated, Boxbay offers direct access to each container, eliminating the need for costly and unproductive container reshuffling. It is also claimed the systems offers significant gains in terms of container handling speed, energy efficiency, safety and lower operating costs.

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