Port of Piraeus

The Port of Piraeus (Greek: Λιμάνι του Πειραιά) is the chief sea port of Piraeus, Greece, situated upon the Saronic Gulf on the western coasts of the Aegean Sea, the largest port in Greece and one of the largest in Europe.[6]

Port of Piraeus
Part of the port of Piraeus
Coordinates37°56′31″N 23°38′10″E
Operated byPiraeus Port Authority (Athex: PPA)
Owned byCOSCO (51%)
Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (23.1%)[1]
Type of harborNatural/Artificial
Size3,900 hectares (39 km2)
Employees3,181[2] (2008)
Chairman & CEOFu Chengqiu
Annual container volume4,9 million TEU (2018)[3]
Passenger traffic 15.65 million people (2018)
Annual revenue 103.49 million (2016)
€ 99.88 million (2015)
(PPA figures)[4][5]
Net income € 6.698 million (2016)
€ 8.375 million (2015)
(PPA figures)[4][5]


The Port of Piraeus served as the port of Athens since ancient times.[7][8]

Early Antiquity

Until the 3rd millennium BC, Piraeus was a rocky island connected to the mainland by a low-lying stretch of land that was flooded with sea water most of the year. It was then that the area was increasingly silted and flooding ceased, thus permanently connecting Piraeus to Attica and forming its ports, the main port of Cantharus and the two smaller of Zea and Munichia. In 493 BC, Themistocles initiated the fortifications of Piraeus and later advised the Athenians to take advantage of its natural harbours' strategic potential. In 483 BC, the Athenian fleet left the older harbour of Phaleron and it was transferred to Piraeus, distinguishing itself at the battle of Salamis between the Greek city-states and the Persians in 480 BC. In the following years Themistocles initiated the construction of the port and created the ship sheds (neosoikoi), while the Themistoclean Walls were completed in 471 BC, turning Piraeus into a great military and commercial harbour, which served as the permanent navy base for the mighty Athenian fleet.

Late Antiquity and Middle Ages

In the late 4th century BC Piraeus went into a long period of decline; the harbours were only occasionally used for the Byzantine fleet and the city was mostly deserted throughout the Ottoman occupation of Greece.


In 2002 PPA and the Greek government signed a concession agreement. The Greek government leased the port zone lands, buildings and facilities of Piraeus Port to PPA for 40 years. In 2008 the duration of the concession agreement was modified from 40 to 50 years. With this modification the lease is ending in 2052.[4]:42 Since the Greek government-debt crisis started in late 2009 the Greek government planned to privatize several state-owned assets. These assets are believed to be worth around 50 billion euros. One of these assets is the port of Piraeus.[9] The Port is a major employer in the region.[10]

Under COSCO ownership

In October 2009 Greece leased docks 2 and 3 from PPA to the China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (in short: COSCO) for a 35-year-period. For its presence at the port COSCO is paying 100 million euros every year.[9] Terminal 1 is operated by PPA S.A. and has a capacity of nearly 1 million TEUs. Terminal 2's capacity is 3 million TEUs and is run by Piraeus Container Terminal PCT S.A., a subsidiary of COSCO. In 2013, PCT finished the construction of Terminal 3 with a capacity of roughly 2.7 million TEU. The total port capacity is 6.7 m TEUs. COSCO's involvement was accompanied by protest. According to trade unionists of PPA, the arrival of COSCO led to reductions in salary and social benefits, exclusion of union members and increased pressures on time and performance. According to an interview in 2012 with Harilaos N. Psaraftis, a professor of maritime transport in Athens, in some cases the salaries of workers were $181,000 a year with overtime. Due to union rules a team of nine people was required to work a gantry crane. COSCO pays around $23,300 and only requires four people at a crane.[11][12]

Economic performance of container handling has greatly improved since 2009. Before COSCO took over, the port's container handling record was at 1.5 million TEUs. These figures rose to 3.692 million containers in 2017 [13] As a result revenue and profits soared. In 2017 the Athens stock exchange listed company (OLP) almost doubled its pre-tax profits from 11 to 21.2 million euros. [14] As of 10 August 2016 COSCO owns a share of 51%, the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund 23,14 % and other investors 25,86 % of Piraeus Port Authority.[4][15]


With about 18.6 million passengers Piraeus was the busiest passenger port in Europe in 2014.[16] Since its privatization in 2009 the port's container handling is growing rapidly. Piraeus handled 3.67 million TEUs in 2016 (2015: about 3.32 million).[17][18][19][20] According to Lloyd's list for top 100 container ports in 2015 Piraeus ranked 8th in Europe and 3rd the Mediterranean sea.[21] The port of Piraeus is expected to become the busiest port of the Mediterranean in terms of container traffic by 2019. [22] Piraeus handled 4.9 million TEUs in 2018, an increase of 19,4% compared with 2017 climbing to the number two position of all Mediterranean ports. [23] As of April 2016 the port ranks 39th globally in terms of container capacity.[24] In 2007 the Port of Piraeus handled 20,121,916 tonnes of cargo and 1,373,138 TEU's making it the busiest cargo port in Greece and the largest container port in the country and the East Mediterranean Sea Basin.[25][26]

General statistics for 2007[26]
Year 2007
RoRo* 1,108,928
Bulk cargo* 606,454
General cargo* 6,278,635
Containers* 12,127,899
Total* 20,121,916
* figures in tonnes


Container terminal

The container part of the port is made up of three terminals:

  • Terminal 1 with a total capacity of 1 million TEUs,
  • Terminal 2 with a total capacity of 3 million TEUs and
  • Terminal 3, completed in 2016 with a total capacity of roughly 2,7 million TEUs.

The total capacity is hence now standing at 6,7m TEUs.[27]

Cargo terminal

The cargo terminal has a storage area of 180,000 m2 and an annual traffic capacity of 25,000,000 tonnes.

Automobile terminal

The Port of Piraeus has two car terminals of approximately 190,000 m2, storage capacity of 12,000 cars and a transshipment capacity of 670,000 units per year.[28]

In 2017 the automobile terminal handled 430,000 automobiles, 100,000 for the local market and 330,000 transhipments. [29]

Passenger terminal

The Port of Piraeus is the largest passenger port in Europe and one of the largest passenger ports in the world. It has a total quay length of 2.8 km and draft of up to 11 m. Vehicle traffic reaches 2.5m while in 2017, passenger traffic reached 15.5m. [29]

Passenger traffic between 2003 - 2007 [26]
Years 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Domestic passengers 11,713,269 11,159,274 11,484,763 11,668,647 11,572,678
Ferry passengers 8,397,292 8,393,053 7,977,880 7,636,426 8,395,492
Foreign passengers 823,339 757,552 925,782 1,202,190 1,554,747
Total traffic' 20,933,900 20,255,879 20,388,425 20,507,263 21,522,917

Ferry destinations

A plethora of destinations in Greece can be reached by ferry from the harbour, including islands in the Saronic Gulf, the Cyclades, Crete, islands on the Northern Aegean Sea as well as Rhodes, amongst others. A full list can be seen here.

Piraeus station is located next to the Port (37°56′53″N 23°38′35″E), with the southern building the present terminus of Athens Metro Line 1, formerly the Athens-Piraeus Electric Railways that opened in 1869.[30] The northern building is the railway terminus for standard gauge railway services on the main axis to Idomeni via Larisa and Thessaloniki, and the Proastiakos to Chalcis and Acharnes Junction.[31]

Free shuttle buses inside the Port run from across the Metro Line 1 Terminal Station, around the north side of the port to the ships sailing for Crete, the Eastern Aegean and the Dodecanese. A direct Airport Express bus runs 24/7 between the port and Athens International Airport. Other public buses connect Piraeus with its outlying suburbs, the southern coastal zone and with central Athens.


  1. MarketScreener. "PIRAEUS PORT AUTHORITY : Shareholders Board Members Managers and Company Profile - GRS470003013 - MarketScreener". www.marketscreener.com.
  2. "Port of Piraeus number of employees". Olp.gr. 2008-10-30. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  3. "Piraeus second largest port in the Mediterranean - Shipping Herald". www.shippingherald.com.
  4. "PPA: Annual Financial Report 2016" (PDF). 2017-02-16. Retrieved 2017-02-17.
  5. "Reuters report". Reuters.com. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  6. "Greece to offer concessions but won't privatise 10 ports". Seatrade Maritime News. 2019.
  7. Στρατηγική - Όραμα (in Greek). Piraeus Port Authority S.A. Archived from the original on 2010-11-27. Retrieved 2010-09-26.
  8. Hellander, Paul (2008). Greece. Lonely Planet. ISBN 1-74104-656-4.
  9. Fu Jing (2012-06-19). "COSCO eyeing further Piraeus port investment". chinadaily.com.cn. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
  10. Fu Jing (2018-06-19). "China bought most of Greece's main port and now it wants to make it the biggest in Europe". CNBC. Retrieved 2019-11-21.
  11. Liz Alderman (2012-10-10). "Under Chinese, a Greek Port Thrives". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
  12. Liz Alderman (2015-10-10). "Chinese military ships arrive in Piraeus port". GB Times. Retrieved 2019-11-21.
  13. "Αύξηση 6,4% στη διακίνηση κοντέινερ από ΟΛΠ το 2017, του Νίκου Χ. Ρουσάνογλου - Kathimerini". www.kathimerini.gr.
  14. "Piraeus Port Authority posts record profits - Kathimerini". www.ekathimerini.com.
  15. PPA (2016-08-10). "Piraeus Port Authority S.A. - Shareholders". Retrieved 2017-02-13.
  16. "World Container Traffic Data 2015" (PDF). International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH). 2016-06-10. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  17. Bruce Barnard (2017-01-18). "Piraeus growth outpaces most European ports". Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  18. PPA (2016-03-30). "ANNUAL FINANCIIAL REPORT FOR THE YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2015". Archived from the original on April 13, 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-31.
  19. COSCO Pacific Limited (2016-03-29). "ANNUAL RESULTS ANNOUNCEMENT FOR 2015" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-04-05.
  20. COSCO Shippinh Ports Limited (December 2016). "Monthly Container Throughput". Retrieved 2017-02-06.
  21. "Lloyd's List". Lloyd's List.
  22. "Die Zeit: O Πειραιάς μεγαλύτερο λιμάνι της Μεσογείου ως το 2019 - Kathimerini". www.kathimerini.gr.
  23. Glass, David; Glass, David. "Piraeus becomes second largest port in the Med". www.seatrade-maritime.com.
  24. "Greek president hopes for more investments following Piraeus Port Authority deal". Hellenic Shipping News. 11 April 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
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  26. "(Container Terminal)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-11-27. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  27. Ose, Mixanikos. "MixanikosOse: Ας γνωρίσουμε το Ικόνιο (δηλαδή το εμπορικό Λιμάνι του Πειραιά - έδρα της COSCO στην χώρα μας)". mixanikosose.blogspot.com.
  28. "Car Terminal". Olp.gr. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  29. "Παρουσιάσεις Ο.Λ.Π. ΑΕ". www.olp.gr.
  30. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-01-01. Retrieved 2012-01-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  31. 2012 Network Statement, Athens: OSE, 2012, p. 3.3, archived from the original (pdf) on 2013-03-10
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