Los Angeles' loss has been Long Beach's gain.
The shift of two major shipping lines from the Port of Los Angeles to the Port of Long Beach has been boding well for the nation's second-busiest seaport, which is reporting its best January import numbers since 2006, according to the latest cargo statistics released Thursday.
Terminals moved 536,263 container units through the Port of Long Beach last month, a 17.5 percent increase from January 2012. Imports soared 19.5 percent and exports jumped 8.2 percent, with 273,918 units and 126,714 units respectively when comparing year over year.
Empty containers, which are shipped overseas to be refilled with goods, were also up by 23.1 percent from last year, with 135,631 units.
"The fact that we're back to pre-recession levels bodes well for the port," said Port of Long Beach spokesman Daniel Yi.
Meanwhile, the Port of Los Angeles reported softer cargo numbers. Goods movement dipped 4.25 percent to 669,000 units last month, with imports down 5.3 percent to 337,428 units and exports down 5.44 percent to 159,257 units.
Cargo numbers started to climb by double digits in October and November after Mediterranean Shipping Co. transferred its business from the Port of Los Angeles to the Port of Long Beach.
In the past few months, both carriers have announced planned expansions at the Long Beach port.
Marseille, France-based ocean carrier CMA CGM, the world's third-largest container shipping line, said it plans to lease and operate a 256-acre terminal at Pier J. The plan to build a West Coast hub is expected to bring 2.6 million more container units, about $70 million in revenue in the next five years and create more jobs, port officials said.
At his State of the Port address Jan. 31, Port of Long Beach Executive Director Christopher Lytle announced MSC's partnership with Total Terminal International in Pier T, a move that doubles the shipping line's stake in the Port of Long Beach.
The TTI partnership in Pier T gives MSC access to 5,000 feet of berthing space and more than 96,000 feet of rail track, an MSC official has said.
Lytle said at the State of the Port event that the added services from MSC and CMA CGM will likely mean climbing numbers in the coming months.
Also helping the numbers is the Chinese New Year, Yi said. Cargo numbers are usually higher in January for the twin ports, which receive an influx of containers ordered by companies before factories overseas close for the 15-day celebration, which began Saturday for the Feb. 10 holiday.