SCH trade volumes are set to build again in 2022 as the global recovery in manufacturing and passenger movements consolidates.
Although deep-sea trade took a major step forward last year, manufacturing output remained constrained by factors such as a shortage of key components, impacting vehicle production particularly.
If progress to defeat the pandemic continues, UK production levels are expected to grow in 2022, leading to higher port throughputs at locations such as Southampton and Liverpool where we are a major supplier of services for ro-ro cargoes.
Volumes are also expected to benefit from the pent-up demand that has gathered pace as global activity gradually returns to pre-pandemic levels. While we saw a drop in levels of new car imports and exports during 2021, throughput of heavy ro-ro equipment rose as the suspension of construction and other projects was lifted.
Building back is the mantra for many countries as existing projects are rekindled and exciting, new ventures are launched, with the availability of equipment key to many programmes.
Cruise passenger throughput at UK ports is also expected to increase as shipping lines plan for reduced international travel restrictions.
2021 marked the return of cruising in the UK after an empty 2020, although the nature of cruising changed with intra-UK and shorter cruises taking the lion‘s share of business at major cruise ports such as Southampton, Liverpool, Portsmouth and Dover.
Getting back to normal overseas itineraries is likely to produce an increase in passenger numbers, with a resulting beneficial effect on companies like our sister operation Cruise and Passenger Services (CPS), which valet parks passenger vehicles.
Already, SCH, CPS and Southern Maritime Services (SMS), which handles cruise operations in Portsmouth, are planning for up to 450 cruise ship calls at the ports where they operate.
This year’s prospects rest heavily on progress in the fight against Covid and its variants but the determination of business to restore previous levels of economic confidence augurs well for another major step towards pre-pandemic trade levels.
For ports and suppliers like ourselves, it is essential that the supply chain regains the resilience that we all enjoyed before the 2020 hiatus. 2022 is the year when everyone hopes that full quaysides and high volumes of traffic become the normal once again.