April 19 - The port of Antwerp handled 47,374,451 tonnes of freight in the first three months of this year, up by 12.7 percent on the same period of 2010, although heavy lift cargoes were down around 15 percent and machinery, engines, etc were down around

The total freight volume, the container volume and the volume of liquid bulk are all higher than the level reached at the same point in the record year of 2008.

The port authority says that it has clearly shaken off the recession, even if the volumes of conventional/breakbulk and dry bulk continue to lag. "Both these sectors suffered heavily during the recession, but are slowly recovering. Moreover, the recovery is not simply related to the state of the economy," declared Port Authority CEO, Mr Eddy Bruyninckx.

In terms of tonnage, container volume in the first quarter of this year grew by 7.8 per cent to 26,240,633 tonnes. In the same period last year, the volume was 24,333,081 tonnes. In terms of standard containers, the volume was 2,172,323 teu. That's 7.9 percent more than in 2010, when 2,013,236 teu was handled.

In the conventional/breakbulk field, 2,926,057 tonnes of freight was handled, an increase of 11.7 percent compared with 2010. The best performer in this segment was steel, which rose in volume by 41.8 per cent to 1,947,487 tonnes.

During the first quarter of 2011, a total of 3,741 seagoing ships called at Antwerp, 6.9 percent more than in the same period last year. The gross tonnage was up by 15.5 percent to 77.2 million.