Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Container Volume Falls at Port of Long Beach

The 2011-2012 fiscal year has gotten off to a shaky start for the Port of Long Beach, with the port recording an over 20 percent drop in the number of cargo containers moving through it in October 2011 compared with the same month in 2010.

Last month, a total of 240,248 loaded containers came into the port, a 20.8 percent drop from the 303,000 that entered in October 2010, according to newly released data. Also, about 118,300 loaded outbound containers moved through the port, a drop of about 21 percent from the about 150,500 that Long Beach handled in the same month the year prior.

The number of empty incoming and outgoing containers was also down, falling to 487,665 last month from 613,621 in October 2010, a decline of 19.3 percent.

The across-the-board drop amounted to a total negative change in TEU traffic of 20.5 percent.

The drop is being blamed in part by the scaling back by smaller carriers that called at the port. So far in 2011, five shipping lines operating vessels with about 3,000-TEU capacity have discontinued trans-Pacific service from China to the Long Beach due to weakened US imports.

During the first 10 months of the calendar year, Long Beach saw a 1.7 percent decline in total TEUs. By contrast, the adjoining Port of Los Angeles saw a slight rise in traffic during the first 10 months of the year.

The number of TEUs moving through L.A. rose by 44,653 containers – or 0.6 percent – from January through October. This includes a small bump in container traffic last month, a 4.4 percent rise to 712,586 TEUs, compared to October 2010’s 682,384.

When last month’s numbers at the two ports are combined, the port complex as a whole suffered a seven percent drop in imports in October, but a four percent increase in exports, mainly due to the Port of Los Angeles recording a 28 percent increase in loaded outbound cargo containers in October over the same month last year.

Imports also rose at L.A. last month, increasing by five percent compared with October 2010.