German ocean container Hapag-Lloyd has reported an operating loss of $986m in the first nine months of 2009, compared to a profit of $320m during the same period a year earlier.

According to TUI, the German group that owns 43.3% of the world’s fifth-largest carrier, revenue fell by nearly 29% to $4.8bn from $6.7bn in the first nine months of 2008.

The shipping line’s cargo volume dropped by 17.4% to around 3.7 million 20 teu units and the average freight rate was down 22.8% at $1,221 per teu.

TUI said that overall profit contributions by Hapag-Lloyd are expected to be negative in the current financial year.

Hapag-Lloyd has also obtained loan guarantees totalling $1.8bn split between the German Government and the City of Hamburg to help it survive the slump in container shipping.

TUI said it made a profit of $1.6bn on the sale of a 56.7% stake in Hapag-Lloyd to the Hamburg-based Albert Ballin consortium earlier in the year.