The Panama Canal announced that it has added an additional reservation slot to its Neopanamax locks, effective from Monday (May 07), bringing the total available booking slots to eight daily.
The decision to offer additional capacity to shippers was made as a part of the Canal's routine careful planning and analysis to meet the increased demand at the interoceanic route, inaugurated nearly two years ago.
Since then, the global maritime community has increasingly taken advantage of the time and cost savings afforded by the Expanded Canal. The Panama Canal has seen steady adoption of the route, recording year on year growth, both in terms of the number of vessels it has welcomed and volume of cargo transited. For example, thus far in fiscal year 2018 (FY18), which began on October 1, 2017, the Expanded Canal has transited 1,183 Neopanamax vessels including containerships, liquefied petroleum gas, liquefied natural gas, dry bulk and more - a 39 percent increase in cumulative transits year on year.
"At the Panama Canal, we are constantly evaluating and optimizing our operations to ensure our service is as efficient and safe as possible for customers across segments," said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano. "This increase allows us to offer our customers even more flexibility, and was made possible by strategic planning and the experience the Panama Canal team has our accrued in the last two years, especially considering that almost 150 personnel are involved in each transit."
The added slot allows shippers greater flexibility and options for booking their desired transit dates. The increase was made possible as a result of the efficiencies gained by the Panama Canal's continued investment into its operations and resources, and due to the ongoing excellence and experience of its employees.
The announcement also follows an increase in the maximum allowable beam for vessels transiting the Neopanamax locks in April. Effective June 1, the maximum beam for commercial and non-commercial vessels will be 51.25 meters (168.14 feet), up from 49 meters, as measured at the outer surface of a vessel's shell plate and all protruding structures below the lock walls.
Today's news aligns with the Canal's methodical plan to continue enhancing operations, advance customer collaboration and service, and ensure the Canal's capacity is commensurate with demand.