Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Grand Alliance Shift Paying Off for Port of Tacoma

The Port of Tacoma handled 156,804 TEUs in August, nearly 30 percent more than the 120,848 TEUs moved during same month last year, according to newly-released data.

The leap is being attributed to various factors, primarily the beginning of the peak shipping season and the start of two new services associated with the Grand Alliance beginning to call at Washington United Terminals last month.

Uncertainty surrounding labor negotiations on the East and Gulf coasts also appears to be diverting cargo to the West Coast, according to the port.

As the peak shipping season began ramping up in Asia at the end of August for the holiday shopping season, the Port of Tacoma saw international container volumes post a 14.5 percent gain year to date.

So far during the calendar year, 1,024,896 TEUs have crossed port docks, accounting for a 7.5 percent increase compared to the about 953,000 that were moved during the same period last year. Import container volumes have improved nearly 18 percent year-to-date, while export container volumes jumped almost 11 percent, according to port data.

The strength in container volumes helped fuel a 25 percent year-to-date increase in intermodal lifts. Meanwhile, breakbulk volumes remain up about 85 percent, reflecting the continued high demand for agricultural and construction equipment.

The Grand Alliance is a consortium of three of the world’s largest shipping lines, Germany-based Hapag-Lloyd, Orient Overseas Container Line of Hong Kong and Japanese company NYK Line, along with associated carrier ZIM Integrated Shipping of Israel.

In July, the Alliance began three new calls each week at Washington United Terminals, having moved their business from the Port of Seattle.