CMA CGM Marco Polo arrives at Norfolk Harbor's Virginia International Gateway terminal, May 23, 2021. Photo courtesy Aerophoto America via Port of Virginia.

Port of Virginia Rides COVID-19 Imports Surge to Record Year in FY2021

Mike Schuler
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July 19, 2021

The Port of Virginia rode the pandemic-fueled imports surge to an all-time fiscal year record in 2021, processing more 3 million TEUs for the first time in the port’s history.

June marked the port’s tenth consecutive month of record-breaking volumes, handling more than 281,000 TEUs, and helped push its total TEU volume for fiscal year 2021 (FY21) to a record-breaking 3.2 million units, for a 16.8 percent year-over-year increase. Loaded imports hit 1.5 million TEU, up 18.6% year-over-year. The port’s fiscal year runs begins July 1 and runs through June 30.

“The colleagues and partners of The Port of Virginia rose to the challenge,” said Stephen A. Edwards, the port’s CEO and executive director. “For much of the fiscal year, we were handling record volumes under COVID-restricted conditions, and we did so safely, swiftly, and sustainably. We consistently handled record-breaking volumes at industry-leading performance levels.”

The port accredited the fiscal year’s record cargo volume primarily to an increase in loaded imports, followed by growth of empty export boxes. In FY21, the port worked 1,538 vessels, which is 100 more vessels than in FY20. Among the ships handled in FY21 was the 16,000-plus TEU CMA CGM Marco Polo, the largest vessel to call the US East Coast. The port serviced 133 ship calls in June, an increase of 27 calls versus June 2020.

In its announcement, the Port of Virginia noted that lingering effects of the pandemic on trade slowed cargo volumes in the first two months of FY21 (July 2020 – August 2020), but the balance of the year held a number of record-setting performances and efficiency at the port’s terminals.

“We expect to see strong volumes as we head deeper into the summer and the beginning of peak season,” Edwards said. “We’re going to keep working our plan of adding assets and, if necessary, hours to the operation, to ensure cargo flow and accommodate the cargo owners.”

The Port of Virginia maintained its position as the US East Coast’s leading rail port having moved 33 percent of its total cargo volume, or nearly 582,000 containers by rail in FY21.

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