Panama Canal Authority: Wait Time Shortens to Four Days

AIS data from MarineTraffic.com still showed a huge backlog of ships on both sides of the canal, November 18, 215. Image credit: Marine Traffic
AIS data from MarineTraffic.com still showed a huge backlog of ships on both sides of the canal, November 18, 215. Image credit: Marine Traffic

ReutersPANAMA CITY, Nov 19 (Reuters) – The wait time to pass through the Panama Canal has shortened to four days, down from more than 10 days last month, the authority that runs the waterway said on Thursday.

“We have reduced by 60 percent the wait time for vessels after measures applied amid an unusual demand and extreme weather conditions,” the authority said in a statement.

To shorten the backlog, non-critical maintenance was postponed, bookings for priority passage have been reduced twice since mid-October and additional crews have been assigned to increase capacity at the canal’s locks.

More vessels coming from the U.S. Gulf Coast and larger tankers trying to pass through the canal contributed to the backlog, according to the canal authority.

Several days of fog affected 107 vessels and a lower lake level also increased the wait time.

Tracking systems showed more than 130 vessels at the end of October between the canal’s two anchorages, including bulkers and tankers.

The authority confirmed it had received several complains from users. A normal waiting period is 24-36 hours. (Reporting by Elida Moreno; Writing by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Sandra Maler)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2015.