Consolidated turnover at the Port of Cork Company was down just over 10% last year to €33.7 million, from €37.7m in 2019.

The company said its financial performance for 2020 was ahead of expectations, although lower than the previous year due to the pandemic.

It said profit after taxation for the financial year amounted to €4.7m, down from €6m the previous year.

The Port of Cork Company including Bantry Bay Port Company reported a total consolidated traffic throughput of 10.5 million tonnes in 2020 compared to 10.1 million in 2019.

It said these strong traffic volumes were due in part to the commencement of two new shipping services from Ringaskiddy, Cork last year, and an 81% increase to 1.3 million metric tonnes at Bantry Bay Port Oil storage at the Zenith Energy Whiddy Island Storage facility, while Bantry Bay Port Oil Storage increased throughput at Whitegate Oil Refinery decreased slightly.

While traditional LOLO container volumes trended lower, it said the overall volumes of containers handled by the Port increased by 4% to a record 250,209 TEU.

It said this growth trended toward new shipping modes in response to Brexit and the commencement of a direct Con-Ro service from Ringaskiddy to the Belgian Port of Zeebrugge.

The Port also reported that Dry bulk cargo, primarily agri products, increased by 2.5% to 1.42 million tonnes.

"In this year of Brexit, the Port's trade in 2020 reduced during the Covid 19 pandemic, with the areas most impacted being Cruise traffic and the reduced passenger ferry sailings," Conor Mowlds, Chief Commercial Officer at Port of Cork said.

"However, Container traffic, bulk trade, Whitegate Oil Refinery and Whiddy Oil Storage facility all continued to trade successfully in 2020, which was ahead of our expectations," he said.

Mr Mowlds said that 2020 was a challenging year for the company, both financially and from an operational perspective.

"The impact on the tourist industry worldwide was particularly stark, and in our case, it resulted in the loss of 98 Cruise Liner calls, a primary factor in our reduced turnover.

"In addition, Brittany Ferries Ro-Pax services were severely impacted due to Covid 19 passenger travel restrictions," he said.

While the immediate future remains challenging, Mr Mowlds said new routes established last year such as CLdN weekly Con-Ro Service direct to Zeebrugge and the unique ICL weekly direct transatlantic service to the US, add to the Port's capacity to carry export goods estimated to value in the region of €20 billion, and imports to the value of €10 billion, underpinning the importance of the Port’s contribution to the national recovery.

The Port of Cork Company said it is looking forward to the awaited completion of its newly developed Cork Container Terminal in Ringaskiddy, the continued growth of its presence in the Con-Ro space with the introduction of Grimaldi service to Belgium, and remain optimistic about the return of cruise to Cork at some stage in 2022.