In its new annual report, Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani called 2012 “another growth year and …we’re well positioned for 2013.” With 33 million passengers, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport achieved a record. International travel grew by 8 percent. Operating revenue rose to nearly $522 million in 2012, compared with $483 million the previous year. Of $224.6 million in capital spending, 82 percent went to aviation. Yoshitani said finances “were solid in 2012.”
The Midwest drought hammered grain exports, which fell 37 percent to 3.2 million metric tons. The biggest blow to the seaport in years came last year with the loss of the Grand Alliance and Hamburg Sud container lines, which went to the Port of Tacoma. The consequences won’t likely be tallied until next year’s report. Container volume fell 30 percent in March compared with the same month in 2011. The port did see Hanjin extend its lease at Terminal 46 through 2025. The United Arab Shipping Co. is expected to begin calling at Seattle this month in partnership with existing China Shipping service.
The cruise business continued to be a success for the port, with 202 vessel calls and a record 935,000 revenue passengers last year. The port claims that each homeport ship that calls brings $2 million to the local economy.
All in all, the annual report puts the port’s best foot forward in a slick, accessible way. People who think Seattle is all tech and that the big cranes on the water are art installations should especially read it. What’s not discussed is the strategy to replace the container traffic lost to Tacoma, a strategy for improving conditions for short-haul truckers or the tectonic challenges coming from the wider Panama Canal. Sonics fans can be placated, I suppose, by Yoshitani’s video where he promises to work with the arena, if it’s built, to also retain maritime jobs in Sodo.
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Today’s Econ Haiku:
REI cuts back
On a costly line item: