West Coast labor deal ‘crucial’ as container demand rises Ship’s crew

From Mike Wackel (The Loading Star) –

With the improving economic outlook, the Port of Los Angeles sees “bright skies ahead,” according to CEO Gene Seroka.

However, he said that for the port to benefit from a recovery in demand it was “crucial” that an agreement was reached on the long-pending West Coast labor contract, highlighted by the suspension of freight operations at the terminals for Easter.

The number of import containers arriving at the port in March rose 28% month-on-month as shippers reduced their empty runs to 18 – from the 30 canceled in February.

Imports handled at LA’s terminals totaled 319,962 TEUs last month, about 35% below last year’s record, while exports fell 12% to 98,276 TEUs. There was also a huge drop in empty container transfers back to Asia, down 42% to 204,996 teu, as depots in China remain overcrowded.

A total of 623,234 TEUs passed through LA’s terminals last month, down 35% from the same month in 2022, and for the first quarter, the total processed was 1,837,094 TEUs, down 32% than in the “best quarter in the history of the port” of the previous year “.

“Economic conditions slowed global trade significantly in the first quarter, but we are beginning to see some signs of improvement, including nine straight months of declining inflation,” Mr Seroka said.

“Despite the current headwinds, we are forecasting month-on-month volume growth…our preliminary data tells us that April volume will end up at nearly 700,000 teu, another significant month-on-month increase.”

Indeed, according to the port signal Data platform, 23 ships will arrive this week and unload 116,796 TEU, which is 63% more than last week and 37% more than the number of import cases in the same month last year.

And anecdotal reports about it The loading star This week there are indications that crossings from China to the US west coast are “running short”, with other reports of container rolling.

Carrier contacts have now been reported The loading star They expect transpacific airlines to meet at least part of their April 15 and May 1 GRIs of $500 to $1,000 per 40 feet, which will spur further announcements in the coming weeks.

Additionally, signs that the market is tightening will encourage BCOs to finally commit to negotiations on deadlocked annual contracts. However, with container spot prices down 80% to 90% over the past year, contract values ​​will be significantly lower.

OOCL’s Q1 operating figures this week showed that the airline’s average rate on the transpacific had fallen to $1,457 per TEU from $3,964 per TEU in Q1 22, although its revenue was unexpired during the period by some higher contract rates were boosted.

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