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Ocean cargo ‘lone bright spot’ for Port Authority of NY/NJ

Seaport has record volume but rail and air passenger levels still down

The Port of New York and New Jersey handled a record 720,969 TEUs in September. (Photo: PANYNJ)

The Port of New York and New Jersey reported Thursday that it was continuing its recovery to 2019 levels and had surpassed its all-time monthly volume record. 

The port said it handled 720,969 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in September, a 15.4% increase from the 624,961 TEUs moved in the same month last year. From Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, the port handled 5,382,422 TEUs.

A statement from the port attributed September’s volume record to U.S. retailers stocking up for the holiday season as well as “growing concerns of future supply chain disruptions.”

The port did not identify the source of those possible disruptions, but the resurgence of COVID-19 outbreaks again has forced business shutdowns, many in Europe.  

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) also operates the PATH rail service and area airports, including LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International, and said the “seaport’s recovery was the lone bright spot in the overall financial performance.”

PANYNJ in September suffered “continuing declines in revenue primarily due to low passenger volumes at the agency’s major airports, low ridership on its PATH rail service and a 10% decrease in vehicular traffic at its crossings.”  

The seaport’s imports for the month of September totaled 376,756 TEUs, an 18.6% increase from 317,587 TEUs in the same month last year. Total imports for the year through Sept. 30 were still down 2.1% from 2019 levels. 

Exports were up 12% in September year-over-year to 344,213 TEUs from 307,374 TEUs. Through the first nine months of the year, exports are down 6.4% from last year. 

The largest drive upward in September came in the auto sector. Autos moved through the port totaled 39,041 in September, an increase of 20.9% year-over-year.

September’s record broke one set just a month earlier. The port earlier reported it had achieved a monthly container record in August, moving a total of 688,365 TEUs, a 1.3% year-over-year increase. 

The August performance came on the heels of what the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey called the single worst quarter on record. Between March, when the full force of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the New York area, and the end of June, the port authority’s revenue miss totaled $800 million — about $200 million per month below budget.

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Click for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.

Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.