- Container volumes at Georgia Ports fell 7.6% year over year in September, although auto and machinery volumes saw a significant jump.
- The South Korean carrier HMM announced that revenue fell 58% year over year during an early November earnings report.
- Leadership from the International Longshoremen’s Association said that union disputes are spreading at ports throughout the East and Gulf Coasts.
- Ocean Network Express announced on Nov. 6 that it had passed all regulatory approvals and completed a majority-stake acquisition of the TraPac terminals in Los Angeles and Oakland.
- The Panama Canal Authority has implemented additional reductions in transits.
Georgia Ports Cargo Volumes See September Decline, But Strong Automotive Month
Despite the container volume decrease, the GPA said in a press release that it was their busiest September recorded outside of 2020 through 2022 — years that saw a pandemic-related jump.
The Port of Brunswick also saw a sizable increase in September auto and machinery volumes at Colonel’s Island Terminal, with roll-on/roll-off cargo up 61% year over year.
“The automotive sector has been especially strong and consumer demand is driving this trend. Our investments in infrastructure capacity are well-timed to support the growing business in our Brunswick gateway,” Georgia Ports CEO and President Griff Lynch said in a press release.
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HMM Says Container Market “Under Downward Pressure”
“Container demand is expected to be under downward pressure with no encouraging sign of restoring desire for consumption,” the report stated.
Despite HMM’s volume growing 11% year over year, average freight rates were down 67% in the third quarter compared to last year.
Similar companies, such as Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd, have also reported similar struggles.
Earlier this month, Maersk announced that 3,500 jobs would be cut on top of the 6,500 it had already eliminated this year.
Maersk CEO Vincent Clerc called it a “dire situation” while presenting third-quarter results.
ILA Leadership Says Longshore Union Issues Spreading
“Right now, we have jurisdictional or technology disputes in Boston, Virginia, Charleston, soon-to-be Savannah, Miami, New Orleans and Mobile,” ILA Executive Vice President Dennis Daggett said.
The Port of Charleston has experienced a high-profile legal battle over the past two years, as the ILA has argued that ocean carriers violate the terms of the union’s contract when using a terminal that employs non-union state workers to operate cranes.
After a lower court ruled in favor of the ILA, the South Carolina Ports Authority recently filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to get it overturned.
Similar jurisdiction issues, it seems, have now been spread to other regional ports.
Ocean Network Express Closes Deal For Los Angeles, Oakland Terminals
ONE also gained a 20% stake in Rotterdam World Gateway.
In a press release, Hiroki Tsujii, managing director of ONE’s product & network division, commented on the acquisitions.
“Container terminals are a critical link in the supply chain with the unique ability to cushion the impact of operating disruptions,” Tsujii said. “ONE will leverage these terminals to help customers manage supply chain disruptions and improve service quality. In addition, these assets will enable ONE to deliver faster and more reliable service to our customers.”
Panama Canal Again Reduces Transits After Driest October Since 1950
In July, transit capacity was reduced to around 32 vessels per day, but that has dropped even further.
From Nov. 3 through Nov. 6, the number of booking slots was 25, and that will continue to slowly slide until Feb. 1, when booking slots will be reduced to 18 per day until further notice.
Peter Sand, chief analyst at Xeneta, a shipping market analytics company, told the New York Times that because demand has been low, so has the “drama” surrounding the new rules.
“If this was a year ago, when we still had record high freight rates and consumers still spending a lot on containerized goods from the Far East, then you would see more drama than you have now,” Sand said.