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Interview with an Expert

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

Frank Costa, OEC Group New York Vice President of Sales, is one of the company’s foremost experts in shipping, having worked for both carriers and NVOs. He shares his views about CMA-CGM’s new West Coast “Golden Gate Bridge Service” that helps, customers get their goods to their destination faster.

Q: CMA CGM recently introduced its “Golden Gate Bridge Service,” which is designed to help customers avoid Southern California’s severe port congestion by only making Oakland and Seattle its ports of call. Is this service helpful for clients moving goods into the U.S.?

A: Clients that move their cargo via rail to IPI will find this new route helpful. The congestion at L.A. – Long Beach has become untenable for any inventory that does not have a final destination in southern California. For many shippers who are transporting goods to other parts of the United States, Oakland may prove to be a more effective point of entry than Los Angeles.

Q: What do you think of the one-and-a-half-day rail dwell times being projected for the new service?

In this climate, where containers are dwelling for at least five days when they gateway via the port of L.A. – Long Beach, any shorter wait times will be a vast improvement for customers relying on IPI rail connection. Moving goods on even a marginally faster timeline will be vitally important in alleviating congestion and speeding up overall operations for all parties involved. Additionally, this new strategy is a way for CMA to maintain the integrity of their ocean priority products, which guarantee equipment and offer expedited service. These options have been extremely popular in the last few months.

Q: With this move to Oakland, will congestion simply spread amongst West Coast ports?

If more carriers operate exclusive Oakland call services any bypass LA-Long Beach, then you can expect to see congestion increase. However, this is unlikely due to the lack of available vessels for hire.

Q: In a recent State of the Port Address, the Director of the Port of L.A. stated that congestion was slowly clearing, and that it may be fully cleared sometime in the April – June range. What do you think about that prediction?

A: April is probably not realistic. I believe it’s going to take a long time for this to get cleaned up. With more than thirty years of experience in the container shipping business, I know these things don’t get cleaned up quickly. They come with various problems and ripple effects. It just takes time. I do think we may see some significant improvement by June, however, we forecast volumes to return to pre-Chinese New Year levels by mid-March. This may not be enough breathing room to make a significant dent in the congestion.

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