Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd has reported the most profitable quarter in its history. Profits soared tenfold to €2.83bn ($3.23bn) in the third quarter of the year, compared with €252m in the same period last year. The increase was due to freight rates rising to twice their previous highs as well as due to higher volumes shipped, the company said. Average freight rates rose to $2,234 per teu between July to September, up from $1,084 per teu in the same quarter last year. Revenues doubled to €6.2bn, up from €3bn in the same quarter last year. That was reflected in an increase to 257 containerships operated by the world’s fifth largest liner operator, 23 more vessels than in the previous year. Ten of those ships came from the takeover of Rotterdam-based liner operator NileDutch.

The exceptional third quarter accounted for half of the profits of €5.6m ($6.7bn) in the first nine months of this year. That is ten-times higher than profits of €538m ($605m) in the same period in 2020. Revenues for the first nine months rose 70% to €15bn ($17.9bn). Average freight rate in the nine months rose to $1,818 per teu, up from $1,097 per teu in the same period. The increase was due to the persistently high demand for container transports with scarce capacities at the same time, the company said.

Volumes transported in the nine months were 3% higher to 8.98m teu. Transport expenses climbed 16% in the nine-month period to $8.9bn (€7.4bn). This was partly due to higher costs for container handling and an increased average bunker consumption price.

Chief executive Rolf Habben Jansen noted that “operational challenges” which were pushing up costs. “Global supply chains are under enormous pressure, which further intensified during the peak season in the third quarter,” said Jansen. “This unfortunately also creates additional operational burdens for carriers, ports and terminals — but, most importantly, for customers worldwide. We will do everything in our power to help with suitable offers and to do our part to resolve the situation through targeted investments and flexible capacity management,” he said.

Hapag-Lloyd expects that earnings momentum will also remain at a high level for the rest of the year. The company is maintaining its earnings forecast announced on 29 October with Ebitda for the full financial year expected of between €10.1bn to €10.9bn. Ebitda for the first nine months of 2021 was €6.8bn ($8.2bn) compared to around €1.8bn in the prior-year period.