Port of Long Beach volume down 17.3% in April

The Port of Long Beach said continuing economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a 17.3% year-over-year volume drop as well as an expectation of more canceled sailings.

The California port said while manufacturing in China is rebounding from the pandemic, U.S. demand remains below normal due to the ongoing crisis and it expected 16 sailings would be blanked between April 1 and June 30.

The port moved 519,730 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in April, down 17.3% from April 2019, Long Beach’s busiest April on record. Imports dropped 20.2% to 235,540 TEUs as consumer demand was down during stay-at-home mandates, according to the port, which said exports declined 17.2% to 102,502 TEUs and were hampered by a shift of carrier services.

The port moved 2,202,650 TEUs during the first four months of 2020, down 9.5% from the same period in 2019.

The Port of Long Beach had only one canceled sailing in April. However, the San Pedro Bay port complex — the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles — is expected to have 48 canceled voyages between April 1 and June 30. Sixteen of those calls were scheduled for the Port of Long Beach. The two ports reported 10 blanked sailings during the same period in 2019.

The San Pedro Bay ports had 61 canceled sailings during the first quarter, nearly double the 31 in the same period in 2019, the Port of Long Beach said. 

Empty containers headed overseas decreased 12.2% year-over-year in April to 163,688 TEUs. Empty containers were down 21% in March year-over-year. 

“We look forward to a recovery stage and rebounding cargo shipments as the nation contemplates relaxing shelter-in-place orders, people return to work and consumer demand rises. However, it will not be in the short term,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “In the meantime, we continue to collaborate with importers, exporters, terminal operators and labor to develop a recovery plan while ensuring the safe and reliable delivery of goods moving through the Port of Long Beach.”

The port also continues to take to Twitter to point out bright spots in the dismal economic climate.

Last month the MSC Nela visited the Port of Long Beach for the first time. The vessel has a capacity of 23,656 TEUs, making it one of the world’s largest container ships.

Also last month, the ONE Aquila made its first call at the port. Six gantry cranes worked the 14,052-TEU vessel simultaneously.

In addition, the last major steel beam was lifted into place on the massive new bridge at the port.