Suez incident: Port of Antwerp anticipates busy terminals where possible

Suez incident: Port of Antwerp anticipates busy terminals where possible

The Suez Canal is open again, but the consequences for global shipping traffic will be felt for a long time to come. Ships will be delayed in their arrival and departure, resulting in busy terminals and peaks in cargo. For Port of Antwerp, the impact is very difficult to estimate; where possible, the container terminals are preparing to handle additional cargo.

“It's going to get busier at the terminals in the port of Antwerp,” says Barbara Janssens. “Starting next week, April 12, our terminals are likely to get busier. The first ships that sailed behind the Ever Given usually first call at Rotterdam and Hamburg and only then arrive at Port of Antwerp. We're assuming 12-14 days after the Suez incident. It isn't easy to estimate the exact impact in terms of traffic at Port of Antwerp. A lot depends on the decisions of shipping companies and terminals, who look at things from a global perspective.”
“The incident is a real puzzle for terminals and shipping companies. The delays come on top of those that have been going on since the end of 2020 – including increased cargo, shortages of container vessels and the Covid situation, which has meant that manpower has had to be re-scheduled – and which are putting a lot of pressure on the terminal capacity,” says Barbara Janssens.

Finger on the pulse

"Port of Antwerp is keeping its finger on the pulse with the shipping companies and the container terminals to see where space can be created for containers. For example, some terminals have already decided that containers for export can only be at the terminal a few days before they can be loaded. We are also looking at how we can optimise capacity inland and make even greater use of inland navigation and rail. It is important to work closely with the entire chain to make the best possible use of the available capacity."
“Fortunately, the container traffic in Antwerp is spread across the various shipping areas and we are not largely dependent on the Far and Middle East,” adds Barbara Janssens. “This means that Port of Antwerp is a little less sensitive to incidents in the supply chain. Our terminal operators are also among the most efficient in the world and we have a large storage capacity. In Covid times, this has also helped us cope with peaks and troughs in supply and demand and ensured that we could continue to supply the country.“

Consumers feel the impact too

The impact on global container shipping is likely to continue for several months, as there is no spare capacity of container ships for extra deployment to make up for these shortages. The impact is being felt today by many retailers and their customers, who are finding that orders for products – like bicycles and other such things – are being delayed.

The impact on the overall transshipment figures for Port of Antwerp is expected to be limited. “We will see more volatility: peaks and troughs in transshipment, but expect that to flatten out again in the overall annual numbers.” Containers have continued to do very well in recent quarters, despite the Covid crisis.


About Port of Antwerp

As Europe's second-largest port, the Port of Antwerp is a major lifeline for the Belgian economy: more than 300 line services to over 800 destinations ensure global connectivity. The Port of Antwerp annually handles around 231 million tonnes of international maritime freight, and is home to Europe's largest integrated chemical cluster. The Port of Antwerp accounts, directly and indirectly, for a total of around 143.000 jobs and more than €20 billion added value.  

True to its mission 'a home port vital for a sustainable future’, Antwerp Port Authority aims to flexibly respond to a rapidly evolving maritime market, allowing the port to continue playing its role as a leading world port. The emphasis in this respect is on cooperation, adaptability, a strong focus on innovation and digitisation, and on sustainable added value, as well as on responsibility towards society. 

Antwerp Port Authority is a limited liability company of public law, with the City of Antwerp as sole shareholder. It employs over 1.600 people. Port alderman Annick De Ridder is chairman of the Board of Directors and Jacques Vandermeiren is CEO and President of the Executive Committee, which is responsible for the day-to-day management.  

The telephone number +32 492 15 41 39 is only for press inquiries. For other questions you can mail to

Port of Antwerp
Zaha Hadidplein 1
2030 Antwerp