Port of Portland's Future Looks Bleak
by Associated Press
Hapag-Lloyd doesn't have city on its schedule after Hanjin departure
PORTLAND -- The Port of Portland might be almost completely out of the container business.
Hanjin Shipping left in February, taking nearly 80 percent of the Port of Portland's container business with it. Now there's concern that Hapag-Lloyd, the other major carrier, has ended Portland service.
"Although Hapag-Lloyd has not made an official announcement or given notification that it will no longer be calling on Terminal 6, its current vessel schedule does not show any such calls for the near future," Elvis Ganda, CEO of port operator ICTSI Oregon, told The Oregonian.
Not long ago, more than 1,000 businesses, primarily in Idaho, Oregon and Washington, relied on the container terminal to get their goods to or from international markets. Having to send cargo by truck or rail to or from an out-of-state port adds costs.
The Hanjin pullout happened amid continuing labor turmoil at the Port of Portland.
ICTSI, a major global ports operator, signed a 25-year lease in 2010 to operate the Port of Portland's struggling container terminal. It represented the company's first venture in the United States, and management quickly clashed with American labor.
The union described the operator's labor-management model as "authoritarian and intimidation-based," and said worker morale was low. Ganda said the workers staged slowdowns to sabotage the company and drive it out of business.
Agriculture industry officials have expressed concern that shipping goods from Puget Sound will become more expensive without Portland competing for the same business.
Hapag-Lloyd represented about 20 percent of Portland's container business, but more than 90 percent of the Port of Lewiston's, upriver in Idaho. Pea and lentil farmers in Idaho ship their product up the Columbia Snake River channel to the Port of Portland throughout the year, except for the yearly lock maintenance.
"Hapag-Lloyd has been a wonderful supporter of peas and lentils in our region for decades, so it would be a huge blow to our area if Hapag-Lloyd were to discontinue Portland," said David Doeringsfeld, Port of Lewiston general manager.
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