As pandemic restrictions ease, the Oakland Seaport is bursting at the seams with record cargo volume. The traveling public is returning to Oakland International Airport for business and leisure travel, although passenger activity is not yet at pre-pandemic levels. Despite uncertainties, the Port of Oakland (Port) intends to improve its long-term operations by planning for its future business and infrastructure needs. The Port’s business lines include Oakland International Airport (OAK) and the Oakland Seaport.
Port of Oakland (Port) Executive Director Danny Wan began a Bay Area Council meeting on Port economics, last Thursday, commenting to the business audience that the container ships anchoring in the San Francisco Bay bring public attention to the fact that the Port impacts everyone. Vessel calls are delayed at major ports around the world including Oakland because unprecedented cargo volume has strained the global supply chain.
Stevedoring Services of America (SSA) Client Services Manager Susan Ransom works at Oakland International Container Terminal (OICT) which moves about 60-70% of the containerized cargo at the Oakland Seaport, “We turn about 15-20 ships a week…and have invested millions and millions of dollars in the largest cranes.” Ms. Ransom remarked, “We’re very bullish on Oakland and are growing our volume here.” Cargo moving through OICT includes medical supplies, furniture, appliances, fitness equipment, and household goods.
Seaport planning and improvements:
Airlines have suffered huge losses during the pandemic but with vaccinations rolling out, people are choosing to fly more often this summer, “The last 60 days has been unbelievable,” said Southwest Business Vice President David Harvey of Southwest Airlines, the Port’s largest tenant at OAK. “We’ve been adding flight destinations at Oakland and look forward to continuing to grow our business at Oakland International.” Southwest Airlines handles about 75%-80% of the passenger traffic at OAK.
Port of Oakland Aviation Director Bryant L. Francis said much has changed for the better regarding air travel in 2021, “The Airport is experiencing strong growth in passenger activity, seeing an average of 75-80% of pre-pandemic traffic daily, which is the highest of any Bay Area airport.”
- Additional ILWU workers are being trained and joining the workforce at the Oakland Seaport to handle the cargo surge and future cargo growth
- Planning – The Port will conduct a land use study, transportation study, and an electrical infrastructure study (to support its Seaport path to zero emissions)
- Three of the tallest container cranes at Oakland became operational in spring at OICT
- Everport Terminal Services purchased a new crane that will be operational this summer
- The Port is facilitating a battery electric truck demonstration project and built ten new electric charging stations to power the experimental trucks
- A new 466,000 square-foot warehouse at the Port is complete and ready for business
- Freight Intelligence Transportation System - a suite of 15 demonstration technology projects along or near roadways leading in and out of the Port has begun
- Strategic planning is underway for the Port of Oakland Maritime Division to guide the division for its long-term, future growth
OAK planning and improvements:
The Port of Oakland supports more than 84,000 jobs in the region.
- OAK has resumed numerous customer experience enhancements throughout the terminal facility
- Airlines are adding new routes
- Airlines are increasing the frequency of flights on existing routes
- OAK’s Food and Beverage partners are advancing construction on several dining establishments located in both Terminals 1 and 2 to open by year-end 2021
- Port staff is examining terminal capacity for post-pandemic air travel to accommodate an anticipated increase in demand from East Bay residents and visitors for both business and leisure as well as domestic and international purposes
- The Port has initiated a multi-year process which may result in a project to modernize existing terminals, replace the ticketing and baggage claim portion at Terminal 1, and increase the number of boarding gates in an adjacent facility
Port of Oakland maritime Director Bryan Brandes gave a specific example, “There are thousands of jobs tied into the supply chain at the Port of Oakland.” Mr. Brandes listed ship pilots, tugboat operators, dockworkers, mechanics, truckers and warehouse workers. “We’re looking for increased growth in all of these job categories and…new categories in clean equipment technology and in the digital, technical infrastructure…to improve the Port for our users.”
Executive Director Wan said the Port, along with its business partners produce an annual economic impact of about $130 billion. “We are a job-generating engine; we are providing services to both passengers and cargo and all the goods…you use; so, support us and we’ll support you,” said Wan.