Total international container volumes slipped 5.2 per cent year over year to 245,294 TEU, as a 0.7 per cent uptick in international imports to 131,067 TEU was more than offset by an 11.2 per cent drop in exports to 114,227 TEU, according to American Shipper.
Throughput of domestic cargo slipped 1.3 per cent to 63,950 TEU compared with the same 2017 period, with volumes to/from Alaska falling 0.6 per cent to 54,591 TEU due to continued soft market conditions and shipments to/from Hawaii sliding 4.9 per cent to 9,359 TEU.
Total cargo volumes have now fallen in each of the last three months on a year-over-year basis and four of the first five months of 2018 following a decreases of 9.6 per cent in March and 1.1 per cent in April.
So far this year, overall container throughput at NWSA terminals is down 5.1 per cent to just over 1.4 million TEU compared with the same five,month period in 2017.
NWSA attributed the May decline primarily to a tough comparison in the corresponding 2017 period, when 'volumes were inflated due to an overlap in old and new vessel services during the launch of the new carrier alliances.'
NWSA noted, however, that the ports added two new weekly services this spring that are expected to increase capacity and direct call options for shippers. SM Line's new standalone PNS service called Terminal 18 in Seattle for the first time last month, while THE Alliance's PS8 service made its inaugural call to Washington United Terminals in Tacoma.
According to ocean carrier schedule database BlueWater Reporting, the PNS loop, which commenced May 10 with the sailing of the SM Qingdao from Yantian, is operated with six vessels with an average capacity of 4,355 TEU. The service has a full port rotation of Yantian, Ningbo, Shanghai, Busan, Vancouver BC, Seattle, Tokyo, Busan, Gwangyang and Yantian.
The PS8 is operated with six vessels, all from alliance member Yang Ming, with an average capacity of 5,795 TEU and a full port rotation of Xingang, Qingdao, Shanghai, Busan, Prince Rupert, Los Angeles, Tacoma, Busan, Gwangyang and Xingang.
In non-containerised cargo, breakbulk volumes surged 34.8 per cent to 97,057 metric tonnes through the first five months of 2018, but year to date auto volumes have now fallen 15 per cent to 50,881 units, 'mirroring the overall decline in the North American auto import market,' NWSA said.