Cargo ticks up on West Coast as Chinese factory output starts arriving

Southern California ports and California's Ontario International Airport report increases in cargo as Chinese factories and ports begin to move product in bulk again


Data appears to be showing some signs of recovery in freight volumes on the US West Coast, as production from restarted Chinese factories begins to arrive in ports and key medical items continue to be shipped at high volumes through air freight.

Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach said that “Following three consecutive months of declines, we expect cargo volumes in April to be stronger due to the recovery of China’s manufacturing sector. However, this uptick will be short-lived as the number of cancelled sailings planned for the second quarter continue to rise.”

The dual ports of LA and Long Beach reported that a large segment of the workforce has now returned to the ports, with a 20% increase in the number of shifts worked – the highest in two months according to Gene Seroka, Executive Director for the Port of Los Angeles.

However, Seroka also stated that smaller ships were becoming more common in calling into the port and “more than 30 scheduled sailings have been cancelled through mid-July.”

Freightwaves’ SONAR measurement of customs filings also found strong jumps in LA ports, which led the US to a 40% jump in filings between March 17 and April 12. However, this data bounce may be short lived they warned. 

Air cargo shipments into and out of Ontario International Airport (ONT) have also risen, with the airport reporting one of their largest single-month gains ever.

More than 70,000 tons of commercial cargo moved through ONT in March, up 12,600 tons – or nearly 22% – from the same month in 2019. From January through March, Ontario handled 186,000 tons or freight, a 13% increase over the first three months of last year.

"Our airport is the heart of one of the most vital supply chain networks in the country, and during this time of crisis, it has become an even more vital transshipment hub for many household supplies ordered online," said Mark Thorpe, chief executive officer of the Ontario International Airport Authority. 

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