Los Angeles port to operate 24 hours to clear long queues of cargo ships

One of the biggest US ports will start operating 24 hours a day to try to clear long queues of cargo ships stuck waiting outside.

It comes as officials scramble to ease global supply issues that may lead to goods shortages this Christmas.

The Port of Los Angeles in California will handle more goods at night after a similar move by nearby Long Beach port.

The ports which handle 40% of all cargo containers entering the US have faced months of problems.

Major US firms such as Walmart and FedEx have also committed to increasing their round-the-clock operations to help clear the jam.

Global supply chains have been disrupted as economies have unlocked and consumer demand has roared back.

As retailers rushed to restock their inventories, the shipping system struggled to keep up. Covid shutdowns at major ports and factories in Asia have added to the problem.

It has led to shortages of children’s toys, timber, new clothes and pet food in the US and elsewhere, while also pushing up consumer prices.

The ports of LA and Long Beach have been hit hard. LA had to move 30% more shipping containers than usual in August, while Long Beach moved an extra 23%.

On one day in September, a record 73 ships were forced to queue outside for a berth. Before Covid, it was unusual for more than one to have to wait at a time.

Earlier this year, the Biden administration set up a Supply Chains Task Force and appointed a Port Envoy to find remedies for the disruption.

Both the ports of LA and Long Beach will now offer more new off-peak night-time shifts and weekend hours, so they can unload cargo faster.

On Wednesday, Walmart, UPS, FedEx, Samsung, The Home Depot and Target agreed to boost their night time operations at the port, something that should help clear 3,500 extra containers a week.

The Biden administration hopes the plan will also unlock capacity in the rest of supply chain, including US highways, railways and warehouses.