Virginia Closes Port Terminal as Volumes Dive From Coronavirus Impact
Date: Monday, April 20, 2020
Source: The Wall Street Journal
America’s sixth-biggest container port shuts one of its six terminals as fewer ships are calling in trade downturn
The Port of Virginia will shut down one of its six terminals on Monday, the latest action by U.S. seaports to scale down operations as trade demand declines amid coronavirus-driven restrictions.
“We have witnessed a marked decline in current and forecasted volumes from our shippers and ocean carriers,” the port said in a statement.
Virginia is home to the sixth-largest container port in the U.S., part of a sprawling facility that also includes the world’s largest naval base, ship repair services and dry-bulk berths for coal exports.
The port reported last week that cargo volumes in March were off 9% from a year ago, including a 9.2% drop in overall container traffic. There were also 16 fewer ship calls than in March 2019, a 12.5% decline from last year.
Container vessel operators in recent weeks have canceled hundreds of sailings affecting schedules into the summer and have idled a record 13% of their capacity to conserve cash as demand has waned, according to maritime data provider Alphaliner.
Trade data group Panjiva says overall U.S. seaborne container imports fell 10.1% in March from a year ago, including a 34% decline in shipments from China, where lockdowns on factories to contain the spread of the coronavirus sharply curtailed exports.
Virginia said it will close its Portsmouth Marine Terminal, on the west bank of the Elizabeth River, which handles container ships and general cargo vessels.