The total number of containers handled in 2013 at the port of Piraeus exceeded all expectations, making Greece’s largest port the fastest growing in the world.
According to an article in Greek newspaper Kathimerini, the subsidiary of the Chinese company COCSO, which is managing all operations at Pier II and III of the Piraeus container terminal, last year handled 2.520 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), as containers are known, compared to the 2.4 million expected. With an additional 644,000 TEU handled by the Greek Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) at Pier I, total container traffic amounted to 3.163 million TEU. This means that Piraeus is the third largest port in the Mediterranean, along with rapid growth over the last three years and a doubling in size since 2011.
It is estimated that Piraeus will be the busiest container terminal in the Mediterranean by 2016. The port ranked 4th in 2012 in terms of TEU in the Mediterranean. The port of Valencia in Spain ranked first with 4.46 million TEU, followed by Algeciras, also in Spain with 4.1 million TEU and Ambarli in Turkey with 3.09 million. At the same time, the three busiest ports of northern Europe, Rotterdam, Hamburg and Antwerp (8.63 million TEU), saw a decline in container volumes.
The proximity of Piraeus to the Suez Canal, which is the European entry point for Asian imports, and its railway which links to the national and European network, saves around six days for goods bound for markets in central Europe, making Piraeus the preferred European port for Asian trade.
The busiest commercial ports in the Mediterranean in 2012 were:
- Valencia (Spain)
- Algeciras (Spain)
- Piraeus (Greece, 2013)
- Ambali (Turkey)
- Gioia Tauro (Italy)
- Marsaxlokk (Malta)
- Genoa (Italy)
- Barcelona (Spain)
- Mersin (Turkey)
- Las Palmas (Spain)