German-based carrier Hapag-Lloyd confirmed Tuesday it will no longer call on the Port of Portland.
Hapag-Lloyd is Portland’s second largest carrier, representing about 19 percent of the business at the state’s only international container port.
“We are omitting Portland in the future in our MPS service (Mediterranean Pacific Service),” company spokesman Rainer Horn wrote in an email early Tuesday. “We just issued a notice to our customers this morning.”
Hapag-Lloyd’s last ship left the port on March 26, according to shippers who use the service.
“We regret any inconveniences for customers and also any negative impact on the port,” Horn wrote. “The decision was taken in order to maintain the schedule integrity of the (Mediterranean Pacific Service). Therefore customers will also benefit from the decision, which was not easy for us.”
With Hapag-Lloyd now gone, the Port of Portland has lost 99 percent of its container service in the last month.
The carrier complained it was taking too long to load and unload its ships because of a nearly three-year, local labor dispute between union members and their employer.
ICTSI Oregon CEO Elvis Ganda, who runs the company that loads and unloads containers at the Port of Portland, said he was disappointed in Hapag-Lloyd’s decision to leave.
“Coupled with Hanjin’s recent announcement to leave Portland and discontinue its Asia service, Hapag-Lloyd’s departure will adversely affect regional businesses that rely on Terminal 6,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “There is substantial market demand for exporting and importing goods to and from Asia and Europe through Terminal 6.”
Ganda said his company was doing its best to attract new carriers to the port. He also blamed the International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers, saying they were responsible for driving carriers away.
“For Terminal 6 to be successful, the ILWU must signal to potential container shipping lines that its almost three-year campaign of work stoppages, slowdowns, and safety gimmicks at Terminal 6 has come to an end,” he wrote. “No carrier will want to make a long-term commitment to the terminal so long as ILWU workers delay cargo and vessels as a strong-arm tactic to get what they want.”
But the ILWU doesn’t see it that way.
Jennifer Sargent, an ILWU spokeswoman based in San Francisco, said it’s not surprising Hapag-Lloyd would leave Portland.
“Portland is a small market and is overpriced given ICTSI’s propensity to practice monopolistic behavior and set its rates accordingly,” she wrote in an email to OPB. “Terminal 6 is just one of eleven export terminals in Portland. Longshoremen work at the other ten terminals and enjoy positive relations with the terminal operators.”