Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

The Port of Marseille maintains its 2020 investments, despite a 15% drop in its traffic

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Thursday, July 9th 2020 à 15:57 | Read 85 times

Impacted by the health crisis, with a 15% drop in overall traffic in the first half of 2020, the Grand Port Maritime de Marseille will maintain the €57 million of investments planned for 2020. Hervé Martel, its chairman of the management board, will even add more than €6.5 million in commercial measures to revive port activities.

The Port of Marseille maintains its 2020 investments, despite a 15% drop in its traffic
FRANCE. "The port has remained operational in all compartments of the game and throughout the crisis. The dossiers have continued to progress, even if the works have been stopped by the enterprises", assures Hervé Martel, Thursday 9 July 2020. According to the Chairman of the Executive Board of the Grand Port Maritime de Marseille (GPMM), "the good results of traffic in 2019 and the very healthy financial situation" of the port will facilitate the recovery after the heavy impact of the health crisis. "We anticipate a 20% drop in our turnover in 2020," he reveals. This comes after constant growth since 2013, with turnover of €169.5 million in 2019 for total traffic of 79 million tonnes. In the first half of 2020, GPMM recorded traffic of 33.6 million tonnes, down 5.9 million tonnes compared with the first half of 2019.

During the containment period, the Marseilles infrastructure only received an average of eighteen freight vessels per day, compared with the usual twenty-five. The GPMM saw its traffic fall by 15% in tonnage to 33.6 million tonnes in the first half of 2020, with very contrasting situations. "The number of passengers (editor's note: 291,000 from January to June 2020) fell to zero for cruises, we had to suffer the total stopover of the Maghreb and welcome only a few passengers to Corsica," Hervé Martel underlines. Container traffic (8.7 million tonnes - 617,105 TEU) has dropped by 14% in tonnes (17% in number), liquid bulk (20 million tonnes) by 13% and solid bulk (4.9 million tonnes) by 20%.

25 to 35 M€ borrowed against 10 to 20 M€ planned

Despite this setback, the Chairman of the Board of Management intends to "maintain all investment operations". The first construction sites started up again in the port precincts on 4 May 2020. But, with fewer resources, he will have to resort more to borrowing to do so. "We will borrow between 25 and 35 M€ against 10 to 20 M€ planned. We will decide on the amount in December or January," Hervé Martel explains. The GPMM is planning €57 million of investments in 2020.

However, the investment programme for the years 2021, 2022 and 2023 has been postponed. "We are re-examining the financial trajectory of the port, but we are not changing our orientations. We don't have visibility because of a lot of uncertainties (...) We navigate by sight week after week," explains Hervé Martel. He indicates that "we are beginning to feel the beginnings of a way out of the crisis, all the traffic has left for Tunisia since the end of June with the Cotunav and Corsica Linea". Before adding even more cautiously, "We are perhaps on the beginning of a rebound. The situation remains a little fragile, but we really have the impression that the worst is behind us. Unless there is a second wave..."

Trade measures of €6.5m

If Hervé Martel is pleased that he has not experienced "bankruptcies of a big industry or a shipowner", he knows that he will have to adapt to the new situation. His customers have suffered and he is therefore taking commercial measures valued at more than €6.5 million. Some of these were already provided for in the Commitment Pact signed with the port community to respond to the crises, such as the reduction of port dues by up to 30% for ferries, RoRo (Roll-on Roll off) and passenger ships from September 2020 and for three months, and up to 50% for containers for four months from September 2020.

Others are new and linked to the coronavirus crisis. For example, an additional 50% discount will be granted for container transhipment operations for four months from September 2020. Similarly, the bonus/malus system, which contractually allows penalties to be applied depending on the upward or downward trend in traffic, is subject to a moratorium. As is the deterrent parking fee, which was introduced from twenty-one days onwards to avoid sucker boats. This decision will mainly satisfy the owners of cruise ships blocked in Marseille since the beginning of the pandemic. The port of Marseille has contributed to repatriate more than 6,000 cruise passengers. A traffic which "will not "know a normal return before the next season", fears Hervé Martel.

Investments maintained in 2020 by the GPMM

Future Cap Janet International Ferry Terminal : The four companies that will carry out the work have been selected and the works are scheduled to start before the end of the summer for commissioning in 2022.
    Submarine cables: The first phase, which can accommodate up to six cables, will be delivered by the end of 2020.
    Increasing the capacity of the container terminals in Fos: Work is continuing to increase the usable surface area on the sea between the two container terminals (the so-called "de la rotule" project) by fitting out a new 240-metre long quay with a 17-metre draught. Eventually, the total unloading length will reach 2.6 kilometres. Commissioning is scheduled for the end of the third quarter of 2020.
    Improvement of the rail facilities at the Fos container terminals: This €22m project calls for the junction of the Eurofos and Seayard container terminals to improve train traffic. Scheduled to be carried out in several phases, it is due to come into service by 2023.
    Development of the Monaco Marine yacht repair dock: The works are continuing and a 6,000-ton boat lift will be built by 2022.
    Electrical connection of ships at quayside: The €20m Cenaq programme, intended for passenger activity, is based on works to connect the ships to the Enedis network, already under way and due for completion in mid-2024.


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