Extra volume of vehicles through Auckland dealt with efficiently, maintaining dwell time to 2.07 days per unit.
Freight volumes at Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) “held up well” in 2021/22 despite the continuing “challenging” global supply chain and congestion in the New Zealand system.
It continued to be the largest port for the country’s imports, handling more than 10.8 million tonnes for an increase of eight per cent on the previous year across containers, bulk cargo and vehicles.
Container volumes showed a slight decline, with total TEUs down 0.8 per cent to 811,565 compared to 818,238 during the previous financial year.
The heavy vehicle and car trade proved to be resilient, especially in the second half of the past financial year with volume coming in at 240,544 units. This was up by 1.8 per cent on 2020/21. The increased volume was dealt with efficiently, maintaining the dwell time on the port to 2.07 days per unit.
Total break-bulk volume, which includes cars, increased by 9.4 per cent in the past year to 7.293m tonnes. This compared with 6.666m tonnes in 2020/21.
While POAL’s financial results reflect the challenges of the 2022 financial year and decisions by the board to refocus the business, it says “there are green shoots in returns from operations”.
The net loss of $10.3m – compared to the $45.57m profit in 2021 – is a direct result of the write-off of $63.1m in costs capitalised on the project to partially automate the Fergusson Container Terminal. The board decided to terminate the project and to return the terminal to a manual operation for the foreseeable future.
On the flipside, revenue increased to $265.3m, up 17.2 per cent on 2021, while operating costs increased by 12.9 per cent reflecting operating cost controls in place.
Operating profit before tax, excluding impairments, revaluations and share in investments, was $27.4m, an increase of 32.8 per cent on 2021.
The company adds it is committed to producing an adequate return on the capital investments made in infrastructure.
POAL’s directors have declared a final dividend of 8.25 cents per share, to give a total dividend for the year of 9.7cps compared to 2.55c in 2021. The return to shareholder Auckland Council is $14.2m for 2021/22, which is an increase of 281 per cent on the previous financial year’s dividend.
“This has been a year in which we have started to rebuild the foundations for Ports of Auckland’s future as a safe, customer-focused and profitable organisation,” the company says in a statement.
“We have reset our strategic direction, and are very clear on our focus on core business and delivery. Our new strategy, ‘regaining our mana’, and the key pillars that support it are designed to lift our performance significantly, deliver a reasonable return to our owner and rebuild trust with Aucklanders. We will execute regaining our mana over the next three years.”
It adds: “We continue to focus on improving our safety culture and practices.
The Construction Health and Safety NZ report, released in March 2021, made 45 recommendations for improvement.
“We accepted the urgency to implement and have completed the recommendations, with just two areas – fatigue management and training – requiring longer to implement. These two areas are complex, and we are working in partnership with our people and unions to complete by the end of the 2023 financial year.
“There is a positive change in our safety culture. ‘Safety first’ is led by our board and management, and staff are empowered to speak up if they see something that’s unsafe.
“Our people are telling us, informally and in our safety culture survey, that they feel more comfortable raising safety concerns and they are doing so. While this is a positive, we know safety work is never finished and we must always be vigilant, look after ourselves and others, and take care at work.
As for sustainability, in June this year POAL welcomed Sparky, the world’s first electric ship handling tug with a 70-tonne bollard pull, the same strength as our strongest diesel tug. It is entirely emissions-free.
POAL’s total emissions – scope one and two – fell by 8.3 per cent to 11,464.8 tC02-e this year (unaudited) from 12,502 tC02-e during the previous year. “This is a positive step towards achieving the port’s sustainability goals.”
The company is also focussing its efforts on areas naturally aligned to its position on the Waitematā. Improving harbour health is an important sustainability pillar in the strategy and it is looking to partner with a range of stakeholders to support a thriving ecology in the Waitematā and Hauraki Gulf.
The majority of the imports coming through the port are delivered to customers in the wider Auckland region, meaning the carbon footprint of onshore delivery to end users is reduced. The port has developed a carbon calculator to allow customers to understand the environmental cost of shipping a container within the North Island.
The company adds: “We recognise the importance of the port as the key gateway for New Zealand’s imports, and we have refocussed our strategy on our core cargo-handling, cruise and marine businesses. We are committed to lift the levels of service and performance of the port for our customers, people and Auckland.”
As a result of this improvement in performance and profitability a net profit after tax, excluding investment property revaluations, of $35m is anticipated for 2022/23.