The Expanded Panama Canal has celebrated its 1,000th day in operation, marking an important milestone for the waterway that is improving the connectivity and efficiency of world trade routes.
Since the inauguration of the Expanded Canal in June 2016, the waterway has experienced an increase in cargo tonnage, as a result of new segments and liner services that have been redirected through Panama to capitalise on the time and cost savings offered by the interoceanic route.
More than 5,700 Neopanamax vessels have since transited through the waterway, with container ships accounting for about 51 per cent of traffic, followed by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) ships with almost 26.2 and 11.3 per cent, respectively. The waterway has also welcomed bulk carriers, tankers, vehicle carriers and cruise ships through the Neopanamax Locks.
Increased experience with the Neopanamax Locks, along with continued optimisation of and investment in its operations, have allowed the waterway to provide additional capacity, flexibility and efficiency across segments. Such changes have included modifications to the Transit Reservation System and transit restrictions, as well as the addition of two reservation spaces for the Neopanamax Locks, bringing the total number of booking spaces from six (at the time of opening) to eight. As a result, the Canal has marked a series of recent milestones, including record annual tonnage and the first transit of four LNG vessels in one day last October.
“During these 1,000 days, the Panama Canal’s workforce has not only met the challenge of successfully managing the Neopanamax Locks, but also exceeded the projections we had for this period of operations, thanks to their efficiency and productivity,” said the Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano.
Last month, the Panama Canal celebrated Moody’s Investors Service upgrade of the Panama Canal’s long-term rating, based on the Canal’s strong performance since the expansion’s inauguration. This was followed by the waterway’s admission to the Global Industry Alliance (GIA), a public-private partnership initiative of the IMO in recognition of the Expanded Canal’s contributions to emissions reductions, among other areas.
Panama plans to continue to strengthen its position as the logistics hub of the Americas. To do so, the waterway will continue to invest in its infrastructure, offerings and people to ensure the Panama Canal remains a competitive and reliable route for the next 1,000 days and on.