Horizon Lines said it will reduce frequency of its service between Jacksonville, Fla., and Puerto Rico from two to one sailing per week.
"Puerto Rico’s economy remains in a prolonged multi-year recession, during which time domestic container volumes to the island have contracted sharply,” said Richard Rodriguez, Horizon's vice president and general manager of Puerto Rico. “After a comprehensive review of our deployments in the market, we determined Horizon can more efficiently serve Puerto Rico through one weekly Jacksonville sailing, instead of two."
Horizon said the change will improve cargo availability times in San Juan.
Effective Jan. 10, southbound ships will depart Jacksonville on Thursday and arrive in San Juan on Sunday. Cargo will be available at the opening of business on Monday mornings. The company currently offers twice-weekly service between Jacksonville and San Juan, departing Jacksonville on Tuesdays and Fridays.
"Adequate capacity exists on our vessel that will depart on Thursdays to serve most customers who previously shipped on our Tuesday and Friday vessels," Rodriguez said. "Customers have frequently requested Monday morning cargo availability and we are excited that our new schedule will provide Sunday arrivals into San Juan so that customers can pick up freight at the opening of business Monday mornings.”
In addition, Horizon said its service from the Port of New York and New Jersey to San Juan
will depart Elizabeth, N.J., on Thursday evenings, instead of
Fridays, with cargo availability in San Juan on Mondays.
Northbound departures from San Juan to Elizabeth will be on Sunday evenings with arrival on Thursday mornings. Northbound departures from San Juan to Jacksonville will be Monday evenings with arrival on Thursday mornings.
Service schedules between Houston and San Juan will remain unchanged.
Horizon said "this service adjustment is expected to create cost efficiencies that will enable the company to improve the Puerto Rico trade lane’s financial performance and reinvest in the business over the long term. In association with the service change, the company expects to record a fourth-quarter charge of approximately $3.6 million."
“We intend to continue to offer timely and efficient Jacksonville service on a weekly basis,” Rodriguez said. “However, making this service change is necessary to improve cost efficiencies and better position Horizon Lines to make the investments necessary to serve our Puerto Rico customers and maintain and grow our business over the long run.”
During the past year, Horizon said it has invested about $30 million in an extensive upgrade program to the three vessels that will continue to serve Puerto Rico. The Horizon Navigator
and Horizon Trader
, which will continue to call on Jacksonville and the Northeast, are C8 Class container vessels with nominal capacity of 1,125 FEUs. The smaller Horizon Producer
, with nominal capacity of 840 FEUs, will continue on its regular Houston schedule.
, with nominal capacity of 690 FEUs, normally carried the Tuesday cargo from Jacksonville during 2012. It will be removed from active service and used as a relief vessel, the company said.
On Tuesday, TOTE, Inc., the parent company of Sea Star Line, a major Horizon competitor in the Puerto Rico trade, announced it's planning to build two new LNG-fueled containerships that will be delivered in 2015 and 2016. - Chris Dupin