War in Ukraine: Piraeus as backup for Black Sea ports

Crisis-proven sea freight experts from a. hartrodt Greece have high work morale.

In the war in Ukraine, the Greek Mediterranean Port of Piraeus is positioning as an alternative to ports in the Black Sea. There, it is dangerous for commercial ships, schedules have been thinned out. "We have already diverted containers destined for Varna in Bulgaria or Constanța in Romania to Piraeus," reports Nikolas Apostolis, Managing Director at a. hartrodt Greece in Piraeus. Even though the largest container port in the Mediterranean is exceeding its capacity limit, customer benefits predominate for Apostolis: "Transit times to the final destination are reduced by up to 20 days, including truck on-carriage."

"Supply chain finds its way"

Apostolis has been working in the maritime sector for more than 20 years and says: "The supply chain always finds its way, even during natural disasters, wars or the current pandemic." He can rely on a. hartrodt's global network of 2,000 employees. In crisis-proven Greece, which was on the verge of leaving the EU in 2014, he says his team of five managed to "keep morale high, no matter what." This year, two new hires are planned for customer services and sales/business development.

"Excellent relations" with Cosco

In Piraeus, a. hartrodt maintains "excellent relations" with the port operator, owned by the Chinese shipping group Cosco, according to Apostolis: "Cosco Piraeus understands that we represent a high quality clientele for whom reliability first and availability of service and equipment second are priorities. In third place comes price." The manager, who holds an MBA in Maritime Management, was intrigued right from the beginning by how Cosco set up its European hub in Piraeus. In 2021, container throughput is expected to reach approximately 5.3 million TEU. Currently, the Greek port is not exempt from the global supply chain disruptions.

Apostolis is eagerly following Cosco's investments in the rail infrastructure. In the future, customers of a. hartrodt could benefit from a rail alternative for transports from Piraeus through the Balkans region – up to Central Europe.