Port NOLA Business Continuity Through COVID-19

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As we launch Port NOLA’s fourth annual Maritime Month, we wanted to also provide an update on business continuity and moving forward together as an industry during this extraordinary time.

Port NOLA and NOPB freight operations continue to operate normally. Our teams, and the entire maritime community, remain tremendously dedicated and diligent so commerce and supplies keep moving — while also taking precautionary steps to keep our workforce and community safe. Port NOLA and our terminal operators continue to follow recommended protocol at the terminals, including additional safety measures for essential crews, such as temperature screening, increased sanitation of equipment, the use of disinfectants at the docks and railroads, supplying masks to workers, and following recommended social distancing practices.

New Weekly Container Service Launched

With a new container service added just last week, our business continues to progress forward. The addition of the Evergreen service underscores confidence in Port NOLA’s and our terminal operators’ ability to move cargo throughout the COVID-19 global pandemic challenges.

This new direct independent CAJ container service will travel to and from the Caribbean and Port NOLA. Direct ports of call are Manzanillo, Colon, Kingston and Port Au Prince with connections to/from Asia, West Coast South America and the Caribbean. Evergreen’s new service will provide our shippers with increased global connectivity through their extensive network of services in Panama.

Container and Breakbulk Volumes

Despite global supply chain challenges during the first quarter of 2020, container vessel calls at Port NOLA were up from 129 in Q1 2019 to 138 in Q1 2020. And in terms of container volumes, we grew 10% from 2019 to 2020, this translated to a 7.2% overall growth for the Port’s fiscal year-to-date.

For the quarterly comparison from 2019 to 2020, volumes are up 3.12% (includes empties). Loaded import volume grew 7% and loaded export grew 9%.

Breakbulk activity continues to be affected by tariffs as well as market impacts due to coronavirus disruptions in manufacturing both overseas and in North America. Breakbulk cargo is down 27% year-to-date.

Despite our challenges on the breakbulk side, we remain optimistic. Our container on barge service, operated by Seacor AMH is operating smoothly and continues to be a viable option for empty container repositioning, as well as loaded exports and imports to markets within.

Intermodal Operations

On the rail side of our business, KCS continues to offer reliable weekly service between New Orleans and the Dallas Market, and we are expecting the empty flow from Dallas to return to normal levels as transpacific cargo slowly increases. CN’s daily service to Memphis, Chicago and Detroit remains a critical intermodal gateway for connecting the Gulf to the Mid-south and Midwest.

Trucking and gate operations are running smoothly. Recent average gate turn times have been 29 minutes for single moves and 53 minutes for double moves.

River Update

We know from this time of year that high river is something we must consider as a factor in our logistics. While we continue to see high river, the Mississippi River levels are steadily falling and last week the draft restriction improved from 42 feet to 43 feet.

Cruise Operations

Our cruise operations have been severely impacted as all cruise lines have halted sailings until at least mid-June. We are preparing for the possibility of extended suspensions of cruises as the country takes a measured approach to reopening.

We are working closely with our cruise line partners and local, state and federal officials to ensure that when and as cruising does resume, appropriate timing and procedures are in place to protect the health and safety of our guests, crew and our community.

As of today, these are the latest dates given by the cruise lines that are set to sail from Port NOLA:

  • Carnival Cruise Line has cancelled all cruises from Port NOLA until August 31, 2020.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line has cancelled all cruises until July 1, 2020.
  • Royal Caribbean International has cancelled all cruises until June 12, 2020.
  • American Queen Steamboat Company has cancelled all cruises through June 21, 2020.
  • American Cruise Lines has cancelled all cruises until June 7, 2020.

Salute to our Maritime Community

As mentioned earlier we are celebrating Maritime Month, and this year’s observance is more significant than usual for the Port and the maritime community as we navigate the complexities of this global event together.

Now more than ever, we salute the hardworking men and women who make Louisiana’s maritime industry thrive. These frontline workers, all across the supply chain, are vital to the safe and efficient movement of cargo and necessities during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Signage throughout the Port NOLA terminals acknowledge the dedication of Port workers and digital billboards along the I-10 corridor salute our essential shipping and logistics workforce for keeping goods and commerce moving. Our social media engagement and TV campaign with WWL-TV, which includes a live broadcast on National Maritime Day – May 22, will also highlight these messages. Here’s a link to the 30-second commercial that is airing throughout the month on WWL-TV.

These are just some of the ways we are reaching out remotely and digitally to salute the maritime community and our essential workforce during this time of social distancing. Be on the lookout for our Maritime Month engagement on all our communications channels.

In the meantime, together we will continue to serve our community with vital services and infrastructure.

Published: May 11, 2020