APLÆs CEO deplores West Coast congestion
Ronald D. Widdows, chief executive officer of APL, an ocean carrier owned by Singapore-based NOL, told a conference of apparel importers Tuesday in New York, 'we have to find a different path for labor on the U.S. West Coast' in the light of 'continuing onerous congestion.'
Widdows specifically blamed both the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) for not solving problems that have aggravated port congestion, especially in Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif.
'Hiring 3,000 more longshoremen won't get to the root of it,' he said. 'There needs to be a change in the labor-management relationship between the PMA and the ILWU.'
Widdows said congestion in southern California is so bad, a standard shipment plan from Hong Kong to New York via the port of Los Angeles gateway, which is normally 19 days, has reached 26 days.
A standard plan from Hong Kong to New York via the Seattle port gateway, normally 16 days, 'is still within a half-day of standard,' Widdows said. He predicted time would increase as the ports of Seattle and Tacoma inevitably 'tighten up due to the diversion of services from Los Angeles and Long Beach.'
Widdows also cited growing congestion at ports in France, the United Kingdom, India, Singapore and Vietnam. Burgeoning port blockages in these nations, as well as on the U.S. West Coast, are leading 'to a loss in velocity throughout the transportation chain. That's slowing down even the most efficient ocean carriers,' he said.
Importers can help carriers 'by being willing to look at alternate gateway options,' Widdows said.