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Port of Houston Authority, Princess Cruises, Reach Agreement for Two Additional Seasons From Bayport Cruise Terminal

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HOUSTON, July 23, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- At its meeting today, the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority reached agreement with Princess Cruises to make passenger calls for two additional cruise seasons.

The expanded agreement calls for Princess Cruises to sail from the Bayport Cruise Terminal during the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 cruise seasons. Sailings are expected to generate as much as $155 million of economic impact over the confirmed three cruise seasons, according to the firm Martin Associates.

Princess Cruises launches its first season this November with an inaugural cruise supporting U.S. veterans. The Bayport Cruise Terminal is in Pasadena, Texas, which is located between Houston and Galveston Bay.

In his monthly report, Executive Director Len Waterworth said that container tonnage through June is up by 9 percent, and net operating income is ahead of budget by $10 million.

Total tonnage at Port Authority facilities for the month of June was 3 million tons, up 4 percent over the prior year, led by container growth. Year-to-date total tonnage of 18 million tons is up 3 percent.

Container tonnage is up 10 percent in June, led by Barbours Cut Container Terminal, which is up 10 percent, and up 9 percent year-to-date, at 10 million tons.

Bulk cargo (including grains and coal) is up by 23 percent at 900,000 tons, due in part to improved grain exports over the prior year. Year-to-date, bulk cargo is 5 million tons, up 16 percent.

June operating revenues are flat to the prior year at $18 million. Year-to-date operating revenues of $114 million reflect a $4 million or 4 percent increase, again driven by strong container growth.

Operating expenses are $13 million, up 1 percent from prior year, resulting from increased activities at container terminals. Year to date, operating expenses are $79 million, up $4 million or 6 percent. Year to date, net operating income is $14 million.

Year to date, the Port Authority has realized $21 million in net income, up $1 million or 6 percent, with higher grant funding receipts received thus far in the year.

Total cash flow of $51 million is up by $3 million or 7 percent so far this year.

Waterworth also gave a brief update on the permitting process for Bayport and Barbours Cut channel dredging and remains confident that by early next year, the permit would be in hand and construction would begin.

At the start of the public meeting, Port Commission Chairman Janiece Longoria acknowledged that earlier in the month, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz made his first visit to the Port Authority to get a first-hand look and overview of the port's strengths in breakbulk handling and exporting. He was briefed on the importance of dredging and maintaining the Houston Ship Channel, which is a major priority for the Port Authority.

The Chairman also noted that, for the second consecutive year, the Port Authority has been awarded the Texas Comptroller "Gold" Leadership Circle Award. The Gold level is the highest an organization can achieve. This program was established to recognize local governments across Texas that are striving to meet a high standard for financial transparency online. Last year, PHA received 18 points out of a possible 20; this year, PHA received 20 points out of a possible 20.

Longoria also announced that the Railway Industrial Clearance Association (RICA) has recognized the Port of Houston Authority (out of 26 U.S. ports) as the nation's best in the areas of overall quality, customer service, customer satisfaction and quality of facilities. That is the second time in the last five years that the Port Authority has received the prestigious RICA Outstanding Port Award for Customer Satisfaction.

And her remarks also included the news that the Houston area has surpassed New York as the nation's export leader. Exports from the Houston metro area topped $110 billion in 2012, an increase of almost $6 billion from the year before.

"This is a testament to our robust industrial performance, efficient intermodal system and the diversity of services we provide," Longoria stated. "Most of all, it is a testament to the investments that we and our stakeholders are making in this region's future."

The full meeting agenda is available on the Port of Houston Authority website, www.portofhouston.com/the-port-commission/public-meetings/agendas.

About the Port of Houston Authority

For nearly 100 years, the Port of Houston Authority has owned or operated the public cargo-handling facilities of the Port of Houston – the nation's largest port for foreign waterborne tonnage. The port is an economic engine for the Houston region, the state of Texas and the nation. It supports the creation of more than one million statewide jobs and more than 2.1 million nationwide jobs, and the generation of economic activity totaling more than $178.5 billion in Texas and $499 billion across the nation. For more information, visit the Port Authority website at: www.portofhouston.com.

The Port of Houston Authority logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=719

CONTACT: Lisa Ashley, Director, Corporate Communications Office: (713) 670-2644 Cell: (832) 247-8179 E-mail: lashley@poha.com

Source:Port of Houston Authority