Van Trooijen was unable to predict whether or not services from Asia–US East Coast via the Panama Canal would be affected. “I don’t know, as it is too early to speculate regarding the impact,” he said.
Maersk’s TP 7 service which covered Asia–US East Coast via the Panama Canal was re-routed via the Suez Canal in mid 2013 due to economies of scale; this led to eight fewer vessels a month transiting the Canal.
The question now being posed is will the P3 alliance also re-route from the Panama Canal to go via Suez? While the question is as yet unanswered, many believe that Canal widening will play an important part in the future decision.
However, according to Van Trooijen, the most important issue in the decision making process will be the flow of cargo as the opening of a widened Canal does not necessarily mean that there will be more business from Asia to the US. “What will generate more business is the US economic situation,” he said.
As Van Trooijen explained, if there are 100 containers per year via New York, the numbers will not change just because the Panama Canal has been widened.
Meanwhile, the possible loss of another service due to P3 Alliance has already been taken into account by the Panama Canal Authority “and has been reflected in our budget (which takes into account) the expected behavior of all segments and services including the possible outcome of the P3,” said Jorge Quijano, the Panama Canal Administrator.