Dublin Port volumes up +13.7% in the first quarter of 2022


Unitised trade with GB recovers strongly (+23.0%) while unitised trade
with EU countries continues to grow (+1.8%)

The Dublin Port Company has reported trading figures for the first quarter of 2022.

Against the background of a large decline in Q1 2021 because of Brexit (‑15.2%), Dublin Port’s volumes recovered strongly in Q1 2022 with growth of 13.7% to 8.9 million gross tonnes compared to same period in 2021:

  • Imports from January to March grew by +14.2% to 5.4 million gross tonnes.
  • Exports also grew, by 12.8% to 3.5 million gross tonnes.

Unitised trade (Ro-Ro and Lo-Lo) accounted for 82% of all cargo volumes in the quarter and the number of trailers and containers combined increased by +13.3% to 363,000 units.  Within this, there was a strong recovery in Ro‑Ro with growth of 22.9% to 250,000 units.  This was partly offset by a decrease in Lo‑Lo of -3.5% to 112,000 units (equivalent to 202,000 TEU).

While overall unitised volumes grew to 363,000 units, trends were very different geographically:

  • Ro-Ro and Lo-Lo to and from ports in the Cherbourg to Rotterdam range increased by +1.8% to 152,000 units
  • Unitised volumes (mainly Ro-Ro) to and from the GB ports of Holyhead, Liverpool and Heysham grew by 23.0% to 192,000 units
  • Ro-Ro and Lo-Lo with other EU ports and with non-EU ports in the Mediterranean increased by +26.4% to 19,000 units.

Elsewhere in Dublin Port’s unitised trades, imports of new trade vehicles declined by ‑8.0% to 25,000 units as land constraints continue to impact the port’s transit storage capacity.

Bulk Liquid imports of petroleum products returned to the pre-pandemic record levels of 2019 with strong growth of +20.2% to 1.1 million tonnes emphasising Dublin Port’s importance as a national energy hub.

Bulk Solids (including agri‑feed products, ore concentrates and cement products) finished the quarter +8.0% ahead at 0.6 million tonnes.

Outside of Dublin Port’s cargo business, passenger and tourism volumes have partially recovered post-pandemic.  Passenger numbers on ferries (including HGV drivers) increased by more than 150% to209,000 while tourist vehicles more than doubled to 58,000 (+238%).

However, both passenger numbers (-23%) and tourist vehicle volumes (-29%) remain significantly behind their pre-pandemic levels of 2019.

Commenting on the Q1 2022 figures, Dublin Port’s Chief Executive, Eamonn O’Reilly, said: “Given that the first quarter of 2021 was very weak in the wake of Brexit – with overall cargo volumes back by -15% – we anticipated, and, duly saw, a strong recovery of +14% in the first quarter of the year to nine million gross tonnes.

“Dublin Port accounts for four-fifths of all trailers and containers handled in ports in Ireland and, in the first quarter of 2022, volumes grew strongly by +13% to 363,000 units.

“This recovery was driven, in large part, by the +23% growth to 192,000 units in freight volumes on services to the ports of Holyhead, Liverpool and Heysham.  However, volumes on these routes are still -18% below their pre-Brexit levels

“Elsewhere, volumes of trailers and containers on services to the EU and beyond – which had increased by +18% last year – grew in the first quarter of 2022 by a further +2% to 171,000 units.

“Imports of petroleum through Dublin Port account for nearly one-third of all of the country’s energy needs and, in the first quarter, volumes of petrol, diesel and other fuels increased by one-fifth.

“Dublin Port’s last record year was 2019 and volumes in the first quarter of this year were
-8% lower than they had been three years ago.  The level of growth we are now seeing at the start of 2022 suggests that record throughput levels will again be seen by 2023 or 2024.  This growth maintains the pressure on us to continue to deliver our large capital programme at pace.  This will not be easy against the background of high inflation which is particularly evident in the construction sector.”

Q1-2022 Trade Results

Q1-2022 Q1-2021 % change
Overall volumes (‘000 gross tonnes)
Imports 5,426 4,750 14.2%
Exports 3,499 3,103 12.8%
Total 8,926 7,853 13.7%
Unitised trade      
Ro‑Ro units 250,324 203,729 22.9%
Lo‑Lo units 112,408 116,498 -3.5%
Total units 362,732 320,227 13.3%
Lo‑Lo TEU 202,162 206,594 -2.1%
Trade Vehicles 24,602 26,735 -8.0%
Bulk trade (‘000 tonnes)      
Bulk Liquid 1,065 886 20.2%
Bulk Solid 556 514 8.0%
Break Bulk 13 22 -38.4%
Ferry traffic      
Passengers* 209,182 82,476 153.6%
Tourist vehicles 57,800 17,091 238.2%
Shipping activity      
Number of arrivals 1,717 1,714 0.2%