The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) reported this week that while year-over-year container volume was down, May’s figures actually were better than expected.
The Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal moved 337,359 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in May, a decrease of 9.7% or 36,000 TEUs compared to the same month a year ago.
Executive Director Griff Lynch credited what the GPA called “an unshaken commitment to customer service” for the better-than-expected performance in May.
“I would like to thank our GPA employees, members of the International Longshoremen’s Association, motor carriers, rail and all our supply chain partners for their dedication,” Lynch said. “Their efforts, along with Savannah’s strong export commodities and record cargo moved by the Appalachian Regional Port, are all contributing factors to our performance.”
The GPA operates the deepwater ports of Savannah and Brunswick as well as inland terminals in Chatsworth, Bainbridge and Columbus.
Lynch said early last month that the GPA was battening down for a May with 37 canceled sailings. In a normal May, there are no canceled calls at Georgia’s ports.
The GPA has remained open for business throughout the COVID-19 crisis. It said export commodities from peanuts to forest products to kaolin and poultry have continued to reach their markets on time and in some cases have achieved year-over-year increases.
Lynch previously said he expected the ports’ volumes to continue to be negatively impacted by the coronavirus in May and June.
The Appalachian Regional Port (ARP) in May handled 2,856 containers of import and export commodities, an increase of 99% or 1,420 container lifts compared to the same month a year ago. Lynch credited that huge increase with shipping lines recognizing the inland port as an official container yard and routing more cargo through the facility.
The ARP in Chatsworth opened in August 2018. Served by Class I railway CSX, the ARP provides a direct, 388-mile route to and from the Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp recently announced that Huali Floors, a manufacturer of resilient flooring, will establish its first U.S. headquarters and manufacturing facility in Murray County. Creating 315 jobs and investing more than $27 million in an existing facility, Huali Floors is the second ARP customer to announce a major development. GE Appliances opened a 500,000-square-foot distribution center in March to serve a multistate region via the northwest Georgia facility.
For the fiscal year to date, the GPA’s container trade is slightly behind last year’s performance at 4.1 million TEUs, a decrease of 18,670 TEUs or 0.5%. The GPA’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.
“While our deepwater terminals have seen challenges related to COVID-19, our long-term outlook remains positive as we focus on the fundamentals of serving our customers,” Lynch said. “The resilience of Georgia’s ports is inherent in the underlying value and efficiency of our terminals and network connections.”
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