Hanjin Shipping containers stacked up at the Port of Long Beach.

Hanjin Shipping containers stacked up at the Port of Long Beach. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

The Port of Los Angeles had its busiest January ever this year, beating the record-holding January 2016 with the number of cargo containers increasing 17.4 percent, officials said Tuesday.

The port handled 826,640 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in January. The month now is the second-busiest in the port’s 110-year history, only below November 2016’s record of 877,564 TEUs, port officials said in a news release.

Imports totaled 415,423 TEUs, an increase of 13.1 percent from the previous year, while exports rose 28.7 percent for a total of 162,420 TEUs. Officials said the surge is partially due to retail stores restocking their inventories after the holidays.

Cargo volumes reached a record high in 2016, with almost 8.9 million TEUs, making it the busiest year ever for a Western Hemisphere port.

“Coming off our best year ever in 2016, it’s very encouraging to keep the momentum going into 2017,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka in a statement.

Some of that was attributed to the Aug. 31 bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd., which led to much of the cargo originally destined for Hanjin’s Port of Long Beach terminal being redirected to L.A.’s terminals instead.

The Port of Long Beach last week reported that it finally began reversing the Hanjin fallout, seeing an increase in cargo from the previous January after an overall cargo decline of 5.8 percent in 2016 from 2015. The two ports form the San Pedro Bay Port Complex, which is the ninth-largest port operation in the world.

Port of Long Beach officials said new ocean carrier alliances and the filing by South Korea’s Hanjin, the previous majority shareholder of the port’s Pier T terminal operator, led to the cargo decline. The 385-acre Pier T, run by Total Terminals International, is Long Beach’s largest.

“Last year was turbulent, with numerous ocean carrier mergers and other changes,” said Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzmán in a press release. “Now we have one of the largest ocean carriers in the world as a major partner and we’re well positioned to rebound in 2017.”

Terminal Investment Ltd., a subsidiary of Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Co., purchased a majority stake in Pier T from Hanjin in a deal that was finalized this month. After traffic came to a virtual standstill last year at Pier T, the terminal rebounded to lead the port’s growth in January, port officials said.

Hanjin, however, won’t be so fortunate.

The Seoul Central District Court ended corporate rehabilitation proceedings for Hanjin on Feb. 2 and is expected to announce the company’s liquidation Friday.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.