Los Angeles Business Journal

Port Traffic Up at Los Angeles, Down at Long Beach

By Howard Fine Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Hanjin Shipping containers have piled up along the Port of Long Beach in the wake of the company's August bankruptcy. Photo by Ringo H.W. Chiu

Hanjin Shipping containers have piled up along the Port of Long Beach in the wake of the company's August bankruptcy. Photo by Ringo H.W. Chiu

The effects of the Hanjin shipping line bankruptcy continue to roil the county’s ports as cargo container traffic rose 24 percent last month to record levels at the Port of Los Angeles, but fell 14 percent at the Port of Long Beach, both ports reported Wednesday.

Container traffic at the Port of Los Angeles shot up 23.6 percent compared to last November as a record 877,564 container units moved through the port. Imports jumped 22 percent, exports rose 25 percent, and the number of empty containers shipped back abroad rose 26 percent.

That puts total cargo volume for the first 11 months of this year over 8 million container units, up 7 percent from the same 11 months last year.

Meanwhile, at the Port of Long Beach, 534,308 container units moved through the port, down 13.8 percent from last November. Imports fell 12 percent, exports dropped 3 percent and empty containers plunged 24 percent.

Through the first 11 months of this year, Long Beach port container traffic is down 5.6 percent from last year.

Before it filed for bankruptcy on Aug. 31, South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping Co. had been the seventh-largest cargo container mover in the world and was one of the most active shipping companies at the Port of Long Beach. Last year, Hanjin containers accounted for 12 percent of the port’s total containerized volume.

The bankruptcy’s impact was immediate at the Port of Long Beach, as total cargo container volume dropped 16.6 percent in September, followed a 6 percent drop in October.

But what’s been painful for the Port of Long Beach has proven a boon to the neighboring Port of Los Angeles. A significant portion of the 24 percent increase there was due to shippers re-routing containers that had been slated for Hanjin to other shipping lines that call on the port. Another factor was a late surge in holiday season cargo, according to Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Siroka.

Public policy and energy reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.