HAPAG-LLOYD reported its first-quarter profits for this year were about US$1.9 billion (EBITDA).

The company’s revenues increased in the first quarter of 2021 by around 33%, to about US$4.9 billion. It said this was due to higher-than-average freight rates, which increased about 38% to reach US$1509 per TEU (while they were US$1094 per TEU in the first quarter of 2020).

But, due to the congestion in ports and landside infrastructure and the shortage of available shipping containers, transport volumes were slightly lower than the same quarter last year. This year the first quarter volume was about 3 million TEU, while last year it was about 3.1 million TEU.

On the other hand, the bunker price this year was, on average, 27% lower than it was last year. This, the company said had a positive impact on earnings.

Hapag-Lloyd expects that the EBITDA and EBIT for the current 2021 financial year as a whole will clearly surpass the prior-year level.

While the company predicts these earning trends to continue in the short term, it expects a gradual normalisation in the second half of the year.

The company’s CEO, Rolf Habben Jensen, said on the back of high demand for container transport services, the company had benefitted from higher freight rates, especially on the spot market.

“On top of that, bunker prices have been lower than in 2020. As a result, we concluded the first quarter with a very positive financial result and look back overall on a solid start to the year,” he said.

“While we remain optimistic for 2021 as a whole, the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic and the congested supply chains continue to present a huge challenge to all market participants. We will do everything in our power to help normalise this difficult market environment as quickly as possible and make as much capacity available as possible.

“We will also double down on our efforts to provide the best possible service quality to our customers – as we know that we can and must still do better on that front – and we will continue to implement our Strategy 2023.”