Los Angeles Business Journal

Traffic Drops at Port of Los Angeles

By James Rufus Koren Friday, December 14, 2012

A transfer of cargo to Long Beach combined with the late-November strike led to one of the worst months this year for the Port of Los Angeles.

Cargo traffic at the San Pedro port was down 16 percent in November compared with the same month last year, the biggest year-over-year decline for the port, the port said Friday.

In all, 582,982 containers moved through the port in November, a decrease of more than 110,000 containers. Imports fell 19 percent while exports dropped nearly 26 percent.

Some of the port’s lost cargo simply moved next door, as French shipping line CMA CGM Group started sending some Los Angeles-bound ships to Long Beach. The carrier announced this week that Long Beach will be its home port in Southern California, which will likely mean somewhat lower cargo figures for Los Angels going forward.

“It was a significant chip,” said port spokesman Phillip Sanfield. “We will probably see our numbers softer in the months ahead.”

Last month’s numbers were also down because of a strike by harbor office clerks that shuttered all but one Los Angeles cargo terminal for three days last month and four days this month. The strike also hit Long Beach, but closed only half of that port’s terminals.

The strike will likely have some effect on December’s cargo figures for Los Angeles. While some ships dropped their cargo at other ports, many ships that couldn’t dock during the strike simply sat at anchor until the strike was over or called at other ports and then returned, meaning some ship calls scheduled for November moved into December.