After business dropped 19% during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Port of Los Angeles is now busier than it's ever been in its 114-year history.
"From summertime of 2020 until now, we’ve been averaging more than 900,000 container units every month," said Port of LA Executive Director Gene Seroka. "That used to be a strong month in the peak season."
What You Need To Know
- The Port of Los Angeles is busier than it has ever been in its 114-year history
- The port wrapped up the fiscal year on June 30 with a record of nearly 11 million cargo units passing through the port
- Cruises are expected to return this fall with Princess kicking things off from the port in September
- The port is currently working with the CDC and cruise lines to ensure passengers onboard are either vaccinated or have a negative COVID test
Seroka explained that LA was the first port in the Western hemisphere to break 1 million container units in May.
"If stacked end to end, that line would go from LA to NY and halfway back across the country," he said.
The port finished the fiscal year on June 30 with nearly 11 million units passing through the port, which is also a record. To meet that demand, Seroka says hundreds of more dock workers were brought on, and the need continues to grow.
"The rank and file members of the ILWU have been out on the job six and seven days a week since the pandemic started," he said.
Seroka expects this pace to continue through at least the end of the year and into the first quarter of 2022. To handle all that extra ship traffic, the port has been relying on its Port Optomizer, a digital tool that shares shipping data. It first launched in 2016 but has been updated during the pandemic.
"We’re sharing that data with our stakeholders some three weeks in advance," Seroka said. "We believe having that early data allows us to make better decisions and be prepared on the ground to help improve the flow of cargo."
But the sheer volume at the port has also contributed to higher shipping costs as well as product delays for many businesses and, ultimately, shoppers. Seroka doesn’t see that disappearing anytime soon.
"Buy early, buy often and get the goods that you need as we head back to school, Halloween, fall fashion and, of course, our all important year-end holidays," he said.
For Angelenos anxious to set sail again, cruises are expected to return in the fall with Princess planning to launch its first sailing from the port in September.
"With every cruise vessel call, it means more than $1 million in local economic activity to our hotels, our restaurants and shops, so we’re eagerly awaiting the cruise business to come back to LA," Seroka said.
Still, amid growing concerns about the surge in COVID cases related to the delta variant, Seroka says the port is working with the CDC and cruise lines to ensure passengers onboard are either vaccinated or have a negative COVID test.
As for Seroka, he is keeping his eye on the horizon to ensure LA’s port remains on top.