Executive Director Gene Seroka expects year-over-year cargo volume at the Port of Los Angeles to plunge 15% in the first quarter as a result of the coronavirus.
“Forty vessel sailings have been canceled from Asia, mainly China, to the Port of Los Angeles from Feb. 11 through April 1. Those 40 vessel cancellations would represent nearly 25% of our normal traffic at the Port of Los Angeles,” Seroka said Saturday on “Mottek on Money” on radio station KNX 1070.
“There are a number of revenue streams that are floating here: the goods themselves, the ocean freight, the business on the docks, truck and warehouse communities. This will be substantial and I’ve given guidance to the marketplace that for the first quarter of 2020, the Port of Los Angeles volume will be down 15% year-on-year,” he said.
Seroka said empty containers and nonperishable exports are piling up across the country, not just at coastal ports.
“We’re going to start to see a whipsaw effect in the industry. Pretty quickly those empties and exports will need to be evacuated to get ready for factory production when we curb — or hopefully eradicate — this virus and workers can get back on the job,” he said. “This is a human health concern number one, and we need all hands on deck to get our people well and back to productive lives. But at the same time, we’re going to have to find equilibrium in the industry to play catch-up and then even out before we reach our traditional peak season this summer.”
In a customer advisory Monday, the CMA CGM Group said its business operations in China had “entered the recovery phase.”
“Manufacturing activities are gradually picking up, more port workers and truck drivers are returning to their posts and cargo flow is easing up at the major coastal ports,” CMA CGM said.
CMA CGM, a global shipping line and logistics provider, said it would have staff in its offices in China beginning Monday and also would continue to have employees working remotely.
On the U.S. East Coast, the Seagirt Marine Terminal at the Port of Baltimore reduced its workday by 75 minutes beginning Monday because of cargo declines caused by the coronavirus outbreak, The Baltimore Sun reported.
And the Georgia Ports Authority told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week that imports handled in Savannah and Brunswick could plummet by up to 40% in March and April from 2019 levels.
The American Association of Port Authorities said overall cargo volumes at U.S. ports in the first quarter could be down by 20% or more from 2019 levels because of the supply chain disruption caused by the coronavirus.