After receiving better-than-expected rainfall in November, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced it will increase the number of daily vessel transits from 22 to 24, beginning on January 16. The measure replaces all previous announcements and will remain in place until further notice.
The ACP will also be adjusting its process for reserving slots after the lengthy wait times forced many vessels without reservations – which included fishing boats, cruise ships, Ro/Ros, and LNG/LPG tankers – to divert away from the canal. Under the new process, the ACP will limit each customer to one slot per calendar date, regardless of when the slot was booked, in order to provide “a more equitable and fair distribution of slots.” The auctioning off of slots will be prioritized according to the highest bid in the auction process, fully laden containerships, and customer ranking. These changes are also scheduled to take effect on January 16.
The ACP has also made significant headway in clearing the backlog of vessels waiting to transit the canal. As of December 15, there were 64 vessels in the queue, down from a normal of 99 vessels. Of the 64 vessels in the queue, 23 were without reservations.