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Panama Canal traffic volumes hold steady

Panama Canal traffic volumes hold steady

Total transits remained fairly constant, with a slight decline of 0.1%, from 14,721 to 14,702 transits. Booked transits (excluding auctioned slots) increased by 3.9%, from 7,857 to 8,167. Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) tonnage decreased by 1.1% – from 312.9m PC/UMS tons to 309.6m PC/UMS tons.

Tanker traffic jumped by 4.8%, from 1,972 to 2,067 transits, mainly as a result of stronger movements of petroleum from the US Gulf coast to Chile, while tanker tonnage increased by 8.6%. Transits by dry bulkers were slightly up from 2,406 to 2,420, but container transits dropped from 3,622 to 3,544. Passenger vessel transits grew by up 17.6%, from 205 to 241.

Canal Waters Time (CWT), the average time it takes a vessel to navigate the Canal including waiting time, increased by 13.3%. The surge in arrivals during maintenance performed on the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks added to CWT during the second quarter of FY08, pushing the year-end total from 27.84 to 31.55 hours.

For booked vessels, CWT rose 8.3% from 17.09 hours in FY07 to 18.52 hours. Booked vessels account for more than 60% of oceangoing transits, but utilisation of the booking system dropped to 92.73%, from 94.98% a year earlier. In February, the ACP increased the number of daily booking slots available from 25 to 27.

“The Panama Canal remains on a sound operational footing, providing the safe, reliable and efficient service our customers have come to know and expect. Though a slowing United States economy has slightly reduced cargo shipments travelling to and from US ports via the waterway, the Canal actually experienced some growth this fiscal year among key segments,” said executive vice president of operations Manuel Benítez.