'When we think about where we were in July, I never would have expected we would come out positive year-over-year,' said GPA executive director Griff Lynch.
'In October we broke the all-time record. Then in November we topped that. We said, 'Okay we might have a chance of closing out the year on the container side with positive numbers.' And then December came through,' said Mr Lynch.
Said Georgia Governor Brian Kemp: 'Coming through this year with modest growth is a major accomplishment for Georgia's ports and our partners throughout the private logistics community.'
The Port of Savannah achieved its busiest December ever last month, moving 447,525 TEU, an increase of 24 per cent, or 86,700, compared to December 2019.
Total cargo crossing all docks reached 3.33 million tons last month, up 12.5 per cent. Rail volumes for the month grew 16.4 per cent, or 10,900 TEU, for a total of 77,230. Intermodal cargo represented 17.4 per cent of December container volumes.
'Savannah's capacity to take on additional trade as well as its diversified cargo portfolio - including ecommerce and strong export markets - helped to drive business gains,' said Mr Lynch.
'Additionally, a housing boom has translated into strong demand for furniture, appliances and other home goods crossing our docks. We remain optimistic that the conditions for growth will continue, but it is too early to know if the pace of cargo expansion will carry on as it has.'
Said GPA chairman Will McKnight: 'The authority has remained steadfast in its commitment to build for the future. Expanding our berth capacity, growing Savannah's crane fleet, adding container storage space and moving forward on the Mason Mega Rail Project are some examples of those efforts.'
When planning and design started for Mason Mega Rail in 2016, annual rail lifts at Garden City Terminal totaled 675,000 TEU. Today, that number is more than 936,000, a 40 per cent increase. At full build-out, Mason Mega Rail Terminal will grow Savannah's annual rail lift capacity to two million TEU per year.
'Even during the pandemic, we've seen successes such as expanding trade with Memphis customers. As a major intermodal centre, Memphis is a key market for expansion of Savannah's rail service,' Mr McKnight said.
Memphis customers accounted for 178,000 TEU of loaded rail cargo for the Port of Savannah, an increase of three per cent or more than 4,800 TEU. Memphis is GPA's second busiest inland rail market after Atlanta.