Sunday, April 22, 2018
Business

Port Tampa Bay cargo down, but new cranes go up soon

Port Tampa Bay recorded significant decreases in cargo for the first half of its fiscal year, signaling Tampa is not immune to the issues plaguing the global import-export business.

Bulk cargo at Port Tampa Bay was down 3 percent from October through March compared with the same period last year. Dry bulk cargo saw some of the greatest drops, including coal which was down 41 percent and phosphate which was down 16 percent. Concentrate and citrus juice was down 40 percent during the first two quarters of the fiscal year 2016 (the port's fiscal 2016 began in October 2015) compared to the same period in 2015.

The number of vessels that sailed in and out of Port Tampa Bay was down too. Barge traffic dropped by 3 percent and cruise traffic was down 14 percent.

The drop in cruise ship traffic contributed to a dip in overall operating revenue, port officials said during a regular business meeting Tuesday. Operating revenue as of April was down 5 percent compared with the same period last year. Operating income was down 10.6 percent.

A shortage of container traffic is part of a challenge for ports around the world right now, port officials said. The cost of dredging and other projects contributed to the lower income recorded so far this year. Officials are optimistic that the budget will remain on track through the year.

Port Tampa Bay's two new gantry cranes, which arrived by boat from China in April, are being constructed and will begin operational testing in a few weeks. Port board members approved a plan to equip the $21.5 million cranes with fiber-optic connectivity so that the cranes can be operated by the port's computer system, which will run diagnostics and collect data.

Contact Justine Griffin at [email protected] Follow @SunBizGriffin.

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