The Port of Savannah said today that a drop of nearly 10% for its container volume in May was “better than expected” in relation to the staggering impact of the coronavirus pandemic on both production and demand.
And in a glimmer of optimism, the port said it continues to see a reduction in voided sailings—the term for cancelled containership trips—with vessels arriving via the Panama Canal carrying greater than average loads, and with exports holding up well.
By the numbers, the port handled 337,359 twenty foot equivalent units (TEUs) in May, a decrease of 9.7% or 36,000 TEUs compared to the same month a year ago, according to the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA). For the fiscal year to date through May 2020, GPA's container trade was slightly behind its comparable 2019 performance, at 4.1 million TEUs, a decrease of 18,670 or 0.5%. Total cargo for the period from July 2019 through May 2020 reached 34.7 million tons, an increase of nearly 350,000 or 1%.
Despite the slump, the port is continuing to invest in infrastructure expansion, GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch said in a release. That expansion is led by its Mason Mega Rail project, a plan that has been in the works for more than four years and is designed to expand GPA’s service to the Southeast and Midwestern U.S.
The GPA has now put into operation the first nine of 18 planned tracks, and will commission its first two of eight planned rail-mounted gantry cranes by July 1. Spanning nine tracks, the cranes speed the transition of containers between trains and trucks, serving the Class I railroads Norfolk Southern and CSX. When complete, the Mason Mega Rail project will double annual rail capacity at Garden City Terminal to 2 million TEUs, increasing the number of working tracks from 8 to 18, Lynch said.
JUST ANNOUNCED: Savannah now the top US port for agriculture exports. Read more: https://t.co/wSzcR67syB. #GeorgiaPorts #gaports #agriculture #ag #exports #GeorgiaGrown #ports #PortofSavannah #Savannah #containers #cargo #shipping pic.twitter.com/Ldb44dmPb4— Georgia Ports (@GaPorts) June 25, 2020