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JAXPORT Reports Down Year due to Pandemic While Investments Proceed

JAXPORT volumes down investing in expansion
JAXPORT container terminal (file photo)

By The Maritime Executive 11-03-2020 07:43:03

The Jacksonville Port Authority highlighted what they termed an overall steady performance for the port’s fiscal year ended September 30 despite the strong impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the global economy. The port highlighted that it is proceeding with its long-term strategy, including upgrade projects, despite the declines experienced during the year.

After a record year in 2019, the JAXPORT experienced a five percent decline in container volumes on a year-over-year basis. In total, the port, which is Florida’s largest container port, handled more than 1.277 million TEUs. The strong decline was in containers from Asia which declined more than 20 percent year-over-year.

JAXPORT is also one of the nation’s busiest vehicle handling ports but saw declines in commercial shipments due to the temporary shutdown of auto manufacturing over the summer caused by the coronavirus. A total of nearly 547,500 total vehicles during the year. An increase in U.S. military vehicle movements at the port helped to offset the industry-wide decline.

One segment that saw an improvement was in liquid bulk cargoes, including caustic soda, molasses, and corn syrup. Volumes for this segment were up 12 percent at nearly 425,800 tons.

In total, the port which handles a broad range of cargos including breakbulk, dry and liquid bulk, heavy lift, refrigerated cargo, forest products, high and heavy, liquefied natural gas, and U.S. military cargo, reported a nine percent decline in general cargo volumes. More than 9.9 million tons of total cargo moved through JAXPORT in FY20.

Despite the impact due to COVID-19, the port reported that revenue remained steady in FY20, at more than $65.1 million, down seven percent for the year.

“We are extremely grateful to our customers for their partnership as we all continue to work together to adjust to the impact the pandemic has had on the global supply chain,” said JAXPORT CEO Eric Green. “Our employees, union workers, tenants, and port partners have all done a tremendous job keeping the goods we all depend on moving uninterrupted through JAXPORT during this time. Thanks to their dedication and hard work, we are able to end the year on a relatively high note considering the circumstances."

JAXPORT is also undertaking a series of projects designed to support the long-term growth of port operations. The federal project to deepen the Jacksonville shipping channel to 47 feet, from its current depth of 40 feet, is fully funded to reach JAXPORT’s Blount Island Marine Terminal. The project is anticipated to be complete in 2022, three years ahead of its original schedule.

JAXPORT and SSA Atlantic also broke ground on phased yard improvements at the existing SSA Jacksonville Container Terminal at Blount Island that will enable the facility to handle up to 700,000 TEUs annually. Berth enhancements at the terminal are scheduled to be complete by the end of 2021 and will enable the facility to simultaneously accommodate two post-Panamax vessels.

A spokesperson for the port told the Florida Times-Union newspaper that they had begun to see a rebound in container volumes and expected the volume would continue into the beginning of 2021. The outlook for 2021 however is too early to determine, dependent on a recovery in the global economy.