Chinese shipping giant Cosco has big plans for Piraeus aiming after its expansion to boost container volume by 35 percent by 2018.
Speaking to Reuters, the port’s new managing director, Fu Cheng Qiu, said Cosco wants to increase container traffic to 5 million TEUs by 2018, aiming in the meantime to transform Piraeus into a transhipment hub for trade between Asia and Eastern Europe.
“If we reach that level… Piraeus port would be among the world’s 30 largest container ports,” he told Reuters on Thursday.
This is Fu’s first interview since the Chinese conglomerate took control of the port by buying 51 percent of its operating company a month ago for 280.5 million euros.
Cosco Shipping, which owns the fourth-largest container shipping fleet in the world, is set on seeing Piraeus become Europe’s fifth-busiest container port (now eighth), overtaking Spain’s Algeciras and Valencia. Container business accounts for more than half of Piraeus’ total turnover of around 100 million euros in 2015.
In one of Greece’s largest privatizations, Cosco has thus far dished out millions of euros to upgrade port facilities with Piraeus climbing up world container port rankings to 44 last year from 93 in 2010.
Fu added that additional investment would go towards the upgrade of ship repair, logistics and cruise operations, with a detailed business plan expected in November.
“Through our investments (we want) to create more jobs for the benefit of the local community,” he told Reuters. “A company, of course, always needs new blood…in order to be growing.”
Currently some 1,100 people work at the port of Piraeus.