Seattle gets overflow traffic from congested California
The Pacific Northwest port of Seattle, spared the capacity and labor shortage problems of Southern Californian ports, is enjoying strong traffic growth fueled partly by the diversion of cargoes from Pacific Southwest ports.
“We’ve seen some cargo diversions here,” said Mick Shultz, spokesman for the port of Seattle. “We’re not experiencing shortages of labor.”
In September, box traffic at Seattle soared 33 percent to 162,000 TEUs. Shultz said this was the third month in a row of very high traffic growth. However, he estimates most of the increase in the port’s container traffic comes from general growth in trade, rather than from diversions of traffic.
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach reported Friday their combined inbound container traffic rose 5 percent to 574,314 TEUs in September — a lesser percentage increase than in Seattle.
APL and MOL are among the carriers that have diverted ships from California to Seattle or added calls at the Washington port. In August, they started a peak-season weekly service calling Seattle as the only port of call in North America. The “TP5-PS5” service calls at Yantian, Hong Kong and Kaohsiung in Asia.
Shippers “are looking for alternatives” to Los Angeles-Long Beach, said Bob Sappio, vice president, transpacific trade at APL.
To avoid the congested South Californian ports, many customers of APL have moved Asian cargoes via the port of Seattle, where the carrier operates its “Global Gateway North” marine terminal, he said. APL reported that the Union Pacific railroad is providing sufficient intermodal capacity from this port to move cargoes inland.
“Our rail capacity is in good shape,” Shultz said.
Grand Alliance carriers Hapag-Lloyd, NYK Line, OOCL and P&O Nedlloyd have upgraded to 5,400-TEU the average capacity of ships in their joint “PNX” service calling at Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. Similarly, New World Alliance carriers APL, Hyundai and MOL now use vessels of about 5,200-TEU capacity in their joint “PNW” loop to Tacoma, Seattle and Vancouver, instead of ships of about 4,400 TEUs.
With Los Angeles-Long Beach suffering congestion, APL also reported that the U.S. East Coast all-water trade is extremely strong.
The port of Seattle expects its year-long container traffic this year to be 10 to 11 percent ahead of last year.