Panama Canal Authority cuts waters time despite increased use
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) Monday reported quicker transit times during its fiscal second quarter ended March 31 despite recording increases in net tonnage and the total number of ships using the waterway.
During the three month period, ship tonnage that transited the Panama Canal increased 6.3 percent to 79.7 million Panama Canal/universal measurement system tons. The ACP said total transits in the quarter increased 4.7 percent to 4,052, from 3,869 a year ago. Transits of Panamax vessels, the largest vessel that can travel through the canal, increased 3.9 percent to 1,559 transits from 1,501.
There was also an increase in traffic of container vessels and “supers,” vessels of 91 feet or more in beam that the ACP said require more time and resources. Transits of those vessels increased 8.7 percent to 1,930 while container vessel transits went rose 12.8 percent to 880.
Canal waters time (CWT), defined as the average time it takes a vessel to navigate the canal including waiting time for passage, decreased 8.8 percent in the quarter to 27.43 hours, from 30.09 hours a year ago.
The ACP’s booking system experienced a modest 0.5 percent rise in usage during the second quarter to 94.9 percent utilization. Five official accidents occurred during the period, which compares to four accidents during the same period of the previous fiscal year.
“The Panama Canal remains a vital and economically competitive transit system in the maritime and shipping industry. We are keeping up with heightened levels of demand for the waterway — handling more traffic and tonnage — while keeping transit time consistent, if not reduced,” said Manuel Benitez, ACP maritime operations director.