By Tom Peters

Tropical Shipping, a long-time customer at the Port of Saint John, is moving its weekly service to the Halterm Container Terminal in the Port of Halifax. Tropical said on its website that operations will begin in Halifax Jan. 9, 2017. The last sailing from Saint John will be Dec. 27. Tropical offers service to Florida, The Bahamas and the Caribbean. It will, however, maintain its local office in Saint John.

“This move will improve our long-term commitment to our customers with improved intermodal connections and terminal capacity designed to meet market demands. Tropical Shipping’s Canadian service will continue to provide a weekly sailing every Monday from the Halterm Container Terminal,” Tropical said in a statement.

Kim Holtermand, Halterm’s Chief Operating Officer, said in an email, “We are delighted that in working together with Halifax Port Authority and CN we have arrived at an attractive proposition to bring Tropical Shipping to Halifax.”

Jim Quinn, President and CEO of Saint John Port Authority, said in an interview that the news was “disappointing.” Tropical has been calling at Saint John for 15 years and moves 45,000 to 50,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) annually over the port or about half the port’s container volume, said Quinn. He said a good percentage of the cargo handled by Tropical is New Brunswick-based so it will be interesting to see what it will mean on inland costs for cargo not moved by rail.

Quinn, however, remains optimistic about Saint John. “We are really excited about what DP World is doing with respect to its overall marketing efforts and I think you are going see some significant news coming from Saint John with respect to new opportunities and cargoes being handled in this port in coming months,” he said.

In July, Saint John Port Authority announced it had signed a long-term lease agreement with DP World, one of the world’s largest terminal operators, for the operation of its container terminal which is the focus of a $205 million modernization project. The lease takes effect Jan. 1, 2017.