Port of Long Beach posts 11.1% container decline

The Port of Long Beach said Friday the COVID-19 pandemic continued to drive down demand for goods in the second quarter of 2020, leading to an increase in canceled sailings and a decline in containers shipped through the gateway.

Dockworkers and terminal operators moved 602,180 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) last month, an 11.1% decline compared to June 2019, the port said. Imports shrank 9.3% to 300,714 TEUs and exports dropped 12.2% to 117,538 TEUs. Empty containers shipped to Asia were down 13.1% to 183,928 TEUs.

The port said economic uncertainty brought on by decreased consumer spending and ongoing health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic contributed to a 6.9% volume drop in the first half of 2020 to 3,433,035 TEUs.

“Canceled sailings continued to rise at a rapid rate in the second quarter as ocean carriers adjusted their voyages to a decline in demand for imports during the national COVID-19 outbreak,” said Executive Director Mario Cordero. “The economic challenges may persist for some time, but the Port of Long Beach continues to invest in infrastructure projects that will meet the needs of our customers.”

The San Pedro Bay complex — the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles combined — had 104 canceled sailings in the first half of the year. That’s more than double the 41 canceled calls in the first six months of 2019. Thirty-seven of the blanked sailings this year were destined for the Port of Long Beach. 

Long Beach officials said canceled sailings are projected to significantly recede as the traditional holiday peak shipping season ramps up during the third quarter. The San Pedro Bay ports expect five canceled sailings between July 1 and Sept. 30. One of those was scheduled for Long Beach. There were no blanked sailings at the ports during the third quarter of 2019.

The port said that despite overall cargo declines, it achieved a “triple crown” in June, when three separate terminals and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union workforce achieved records.

• The International Transportation Service on Pier G made 12,589 moves on 23,195 TEUs for the NYK Swan.

• The Long Beach Container Terminal completed 13,278 moves for 24,974 TEUs on the COSCO Denali.

• For the MSC Sveva at Pier T’s Total Terminals, dockworkers transferred 17,080 containers — a total of 30,744 TEUs for a terminal and Port of Long Beach record. 

Long Beach Harbor Commission President Bonnie Lowenthal said, “Our overall cargo numbers may be down, but records continue to be broken thanks to the hard work and collaboration of terminal operators and dockworkers. 

“The economic recovery is going to take some time, but we are optimistic for the future of the port and our partnerships with labor and the entire goods movement industry,” she said. 

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