Industries Ports/Trade

New port CEO: Focus will be on profitable growth

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Print this page By Jessica Sabbath

After more than five years of operating losses, a newly unified Port of Virginia will focus on profitability and sustainable growth, the port’s new leader told the maritime community Wednesday afternoon.

“That’s not good stewardship,” John Reinhart, the port’s new CEO and executive director, said at the Hampton Roads Global Commerce Council’s annual State of the Port Address held at the Norfolk Marriott. “That’s not fiscal responsibility. That’s not how we will run the port in the future.”

The Port of Virginia has posted record growth in container traffic during the past two years but has continued to have operating losses.

In 2013, the Port of Virginia saw its cargo traffic increase 5.6 percent to a record 2.2 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) handled at its terminals. However, the port reported an operating loss of $10.5 million from July to December. Even as the port has surpassed pre-recession traffic levels, it has posted a projected operating loss of $109.2 million over six years.

“Going forward. the growth is going to have to be more measured, and it’s going to have to be profitable,” Tom Capozzi, chief commercial officer of the Port of Virginia, said.

The address comes nine days after Reinhart took his position as head of both the Virginia Port Authority and its operator, Virginia International Terminals. Under a reorganization approved last year, the port is streamlining operation of the two groups.

Reinhart was the former CEO of Maersk Line Ltd. The Norfolk-based unit of A.P. Moller-Maersk Group operates a U.S. fleet of commercial ships used in international commercial service or that are under military contract.

Last month, before Reinhart took the helm at the port, newly appointed Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne took the Virginia Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners to task for the port’s operating losses. He has asked the board to develop a report on projected finances for this year in March and another one on use of the port’s current facilities by July 1.

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