Port of Los Angeles hit by steep drop on volume

Port of Los Angeles hit by steep drop on volume
The Port of Los Angeles

Container volumes plummeted by 29.8% at the Port of Los Angeles in May as the hub was hit by a number of blanked sailings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The US West Coast hub handled 581,665 teu last month, with substantial decreases across all container segments – loaded imports fell 28.4%, loaded exports dropped 37.6% and empties declined 26.8%.

The disappointing results mean that overall cargo volumes fell by 18.6% during the first five months of this year compared to 2019.

Port of Los Angeles executive director Gene Seroka stated: “Compared to last May’s historic volumes, the surge in cancelled sailings due to COVID-19 and the trade war, along with shifts in liner services, all contributed to significantly softer volumes.

“As the US economy begins to recover, we expect fewer cancelled sailings and an uptick in cargo compared to previous months. We continue to invest through this global economic downturn in the infrastructure and technology that will assist us in driving our competitive advantage now and in the future.”

Meanwhile, neighbouring hub the Port of Long Beach saw container volumes rise by 9.5% to 628,205 teu in May. Imports grew 7.6% while exports climbed 11.6% and empty containers jumped 11.4%.

The port moved 2,830,855 teu during the first five months of 2020, 5.9% down from the same period in 2019.

As part of its recovery efforts, the port has activated an internal Business Recovery Task Force that works with customers, industry partners, labour and government agencies to ensure terminal and supply chain operations continue without disruption, along with expediting shipments of crucial personal protective equipment.

Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, stated: “Our strong numbers reflect the efforts of our Business Recovery Task Force, which is setting the path for efficient cargo movement and growth.

“Our focus on operational excellence and world-class customer service will continue as we prioritise our industry-leading infrastructure development projects.”

Long Beach Harbour Commission President Bonnie Lowenthal said: “We aren’t out of the woods, but this is the gradual growth we have anticipated as the US starts to rebound from the devastating economic impacts of COVID-19 and the trade war with China.”

Manufacturing in China continues to rebound from the effects of COVID-19, while demand for furniture, digital products and home improvement goods is increasing in the US, noted the port authority.