The Port of Los Angeles reported cargo volumes declined during first three months of 2023 compared to 2022. The Port reported that January to April volumes were 2,525,204 TEUs compared to 3,569,391 TEUs in 2022
In his monthly media briefing on May 18th, Eugene Seroka, Executive Director, Port of Los Angeles noted that April cargo volumes declined to 688,110 TEUs which was a decline of 22% compared the same month in 2022. He noted that imports were down by about 25% and exports declined by 12% compared to 2022.
So far, Seroka said that 2023: “Has been a challenging year.”
Seroka finds some room for optimism: “The bright spot is we've been on an upward trajectory these last two months. We saw a 28% climb march over February and an additional 10% increase in April over March. I believe that this trend will continue in May as we project to reach or exceed 700,000 TEUs for the month.”
On the labor front, Seroka said: “I believe that we're on the doorstep of a tentative agreement. Both sides are spending a lot of time at the negotiating table, and I'm optimistic we'll hear good news soon. A tentative agreement would be a welcome development for customers who have been diverting cargo elsewhere. Resolving this issue will send a clear signal of stability. Overall, I am optimistic we'll see a better second half of the year. If economic conditions improve and we get a labor deal in place, that will definitely help drive our volume here in Los Angeles.”
Seroka was asked how much cargo, that had been diverted away from the West Coast and Los Angeles due to labor uncertainty, would be coming back; “We'll see how much and how fast cargo shifts back to the West Coast, and we'll do everything we can to bring it back here.”
Seroka introduced Alan McCorkle President and CEO, Yusen Terminals who said that congestion problems at the Port of Los Angeles terminal has disappeared and that dwell times for container pick-ups by truck are back to pre-pandemic levels as are rail dwell times which he cited as 4.8 days and 4.9 days respectively.
McCorkle noted that some terminals have had problems with empty container returns but at Yusen “We never turn away an empty.”
Another problem has been gate closures: “Several marine terminals have closed gates to adjust to the current volume levels … We have cut back gate hours given the current volumes by some, the last two or three weeks … I think we're getting back to a part where we start having all of our gates running all the time.”
McCorkle said Yusen is investing in zero emission cargo handling equipment including battery-powered top handlers: “It's a big thing for our industry … that we move towards zero emissions. … I'm pleased to tell you that we’re partnering with Taylor Forklift and we're going to have five fully electric top handlers coming (into the terminal) … in the fourth quarter of this year.”
McCorkle said that Yusen was also partnering with Toyota to acquire hydrogen powered RTGs (Rubber Tire Gantry) and top handlers: “I'm also proud to talk about what we've done with Toyota… we're going to have the most robust hydrogen demonstrations in LA … this year … We are going to have RTGs … some yard tractors, and … top handlers that are be hydrogen powered… We want to find that right solution … to move from the diesel machines we have now and getting into … zero emission.”
McCorkle concluded that Yusen wants to make the transition to zero emission equipment and well before California air quality mandates require them: “We don't want to wait … We’d like to get there sooner.”
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