Port of Los Angeles Reports Strongest Q1 Ever

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By The Maritime Executive 04-14-2016 08:46:46

On Thursday, the Port of Los Angeles reported that its first quarter of 2016 was its busiest in history, up 11 percent over the same period last year, when the lasting effects of labor troubles slowed traffic at the facility.

The strong Q1 showing came despite weak March numbers, down 22 percent from March 2015 - a reflection of the unusual circumstances last year, plus the effects of the Chinese New Year. 

“Our first quarter growth is significant and encouraging,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “The feedback we are receiving from cargo owners and exporters is that the port is delivering on speed, efficiency, cost and service. Our terminal operators and supply chain partners are working with us to continuously improve and optimize operations.”

The port's volumes may be set to accelerate, if its shoreside facilities prove adequate to the additional volume. The two largest container vessels currently calling in North America, the 18,000 TEU CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin and the 13,500 TEU Maersk Edmonton, will return to the Port of Los Angeles simultaneously next week, both bringing a surge of container moves; critics have suggested that the largest vessels impose an excessive peak traffic volume that U.S. ports may not be able to handle, and serving a combined 31,500 TEU of nominal capacity at once could be a useful test. 

The adjoining Port of Long Beach reported an improvement of six percent over the same period last year, its strongest first quarter showing since 2007. 

In statements, both ports emphasized their strategic location in the Pacific Rim's economy – they are the two largest ports in North America, and together they handle 40 percent of American imports – and both suggested that the near future could be difficult to predict. 

“The uneven global economy, industry financial pressures, weak U.S. export demand and the introduction of megasized container vessels to West Coast ports have created dynamic conditions for the maritime industry that will continue to play out over the coming year. Nevertheless, our value proposition, being the fastest and most cost-effective supply route from Asia to America’s consumer markets, continues to define Long Beach and Southern California as the multimodal gateway of choice for our shipping customers," said Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup.