By Karen Robes Meeks
Earlier this month, the Port of Hueneme said that automakers – the port’s biggest revenue generators – expect an estimated 90 percent drop in cargo over the next two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a projected $2.68 million loss.
Auto manufacturers in Germany, United Kingdom, Sweden, South Korea, and Japan closed for much of April, and many automakers, including those in the US, have either stopped production or shifted to producing ventilators to meet hospital demand, the port said.
“As it takes several weeks for vessels to travel from Europe and Asia to Hueneme, we will begin seeing a dramatic reduction in autos the second week of May forward,” said Oxnard Harbor District President Jess Ramirez.
Ramirez added that the port usually has three to four auto carriers call the port any given week, but nearly 90 percent of the sailings in May have been cancelled.
Supply and demand is part of this equation, said CEO and Port Director Kristin Decas.
“The past month we have been helping our customers store additional automobiles that were not being sent to dealerships as a result of the stay-at-home orders in several states,” she said. “Now, as the dealerships re-open and consumer demand comes back up gradually, we are still going to see a reduced level of shipments to the port from that segment until the manufacturing plants can resume production and re-establish their supply chains.”
The port said it has been able to dip into its reserves to pay for immediate expenses.