Business, Freight News, Sea

Panama Canal Records Third-Highest Annual Cargo Tonnage in Fiscal Year 2016

[ October 21, 2016   //   ]

At the close of the 2016 fiscal year (FY16), the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) recorded the third-highest annual tonnage in its history, welcoming 330.7 million Panama Canal tons (PC/UMS).

A total of 13,114 vessels transited the Panama Canal during the fiscal period from Oct. 1, 2015 to Sept. 30, 2016. Of these, 238 were Neopanamax vessels that took advantage of the newly opened Expanded Canal during the first three months of its operation, accounting for 18.2 million PC/UMS.

“Despite the international shipping downturn this past year, we recorded one of the highest annual tonnage figures since the opening of the original Canal 102 years ago,” said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano. “This latest success reinforces the continued strategic importance of the route and the growing value that recent investments in the Canal will bring to the maritime industry.”

Since opening, the Expanded Canal has seen major liners redirect service to the waterway to take advantage of the route’s significant time savings. Thus far, nine Neopanamax liner services have been deployed through the new locks, primarily on the U.S. East Coast to Asia trade route. Next month, an additional Neopanamax liner service is expected to follow suit, further demonstrating the benefits provided by the new waterway.

Analysis shows that the container segment continued to be the leading source of Canal traffic, accounting for more than 36 percent of the total cargo received. In total, container vessels contributed 119.6 million PC/UMS transited through the waterway, including 13.4 million PC/UMS that passed through the Expanded Canal. The next leading segments by tonnage were bulk carriers (65.6 million PC/UMS), tankers (55.0 million PC/UMS) and vehicle carriers (46.7 million PC/UMS).

In recognition of the increasingly diverse traffic passing through its waterway, the ACP instituted a new tolls structure to better meet shippers’ needs and reflect changing cargo patterns.

The new tolls structure, which went into effect April 1, 2016, is tailored further to shippers and their cargo, assigning tolls per the specific type and amount of cargo being transited, as opposed to the more general approach previously utilized.

As part of this restructuring, the Canal established a customer-loyalty program for the container segment that allows frequent customers to receive preferred pricing once they have met a particular volume threshold, providing further cost-incentives to shippers who regularly take advantage of the route.

While the Panama Canal has made a major impact in FY16, this is merely the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the ACP.

In FY17, the Panama Canal will continue its focus on enhancing the logistics infrastructure in Panama by advancing projects such as the Corozal Container Terminal, which is currently in the bidding stage. This infrastructure project, along with others, will add to the waterway’s already robust set of offerings for the maritime industry and further position Panama as the preferred route and regional destination for shippers.

“What we accomplished with the opening of the Expanded Panama Canal this past fiscal year was just the beginning of an ambitious plan to strengthen Panama’s position as the logistics hub of the Americas,” said Administrator Quijano. “Our greatest strategic asset is our geographic location at the crossroads of the Americas. We are a link in a chain where reliability is a most valued attribute, and we are committed to continue to enhance it.”