DP World, the Dubai-based port operator, has reported lower container throughput figures across its global port operations.The company handled a total of 12.8 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in the first quarter of this year, which is a 7 per cent decline compared to the same period last year.

The operator blames the fall in volumes on the “challenging” operating conditions seen in the first quarter of this year. 

The biggest decline in volumes was seen across the European, Middle Eastern, and African region. Ports in the Americas and Australia performed better, though still recorded a fall in volumes.

First quarter throughput across its Asian ports stood at just over 6.07 million TEUs, a decline of 6.3 per cent compared to Q1 in 2012.

Throughput across the company’s Europe, Middle East and African assets stood at 5.17 million TEUS, a fall of 8.7 per cent compared to last year’s first quarter.

The American and Australian ports reported a fall of 3.6 per cent in the first quarter this year.  

During 2012, DP World has sold off a number of assets across its global portfolio, which has also affected the company’s overall throughput volumes.

The company divested its ports in Aden in Jordan, Yemen, Adelaide in Australia and its Russian operation in Vostochny. If these divestments are taken into consideration, global container throughput only declined by 3.5 per cent.

Despite a subdued start to 2013, DP World chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem says: “Notwithstanding the challenging macroeconomic conditions, we still expect like for like container throughput in line with 2012 with our portfolio focused on the faster growing emerging markets and more stable origin and destination cargo”.

During 2012, DP World sold off 1 million TEUs of capacity from its operations in Europe, Middle East and Africa, and a further 0.3 million TEU from its Americas and Australia region. During the first quarter it divested 1.6 million TEUs following the sale of its Hong Kong assets.