The Panama Canal Authority has announced a temporary changes to its reservation system to help customers affected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starting May 4, the waterway will implement temporary changes that will no longer require of booking guarantees and the advance payment of reservation fees upon confirmation of a reservation. Instead, customers will be allowed to place the guarantee for the payment of the booking slot prior to the vessel initiating transit.
The Panama Canal Authority said it hopes the changes will provide some economic relief to customers impacted by the global pandemic.
“The Panama Canal has served customers for over a century’s worth of ebbs and flows, and so we know the importance of adaptability and partnership during this time,” said Panama Canal Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales. “The months ahead will be challenging across our industry, but we aim to help reduce the financial burden for our customers today so we can all stand ready for a brighter future tomorrow.”
The measure will be in place for 120 days, lifting on September 1, 2020.
In January, the Panama Canal began implementing measures to safeguard its sustained operations, the health of its workforce, customers, and the crew of ships in transit in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In March, the waterway began instituting heightened procedures, including a reduction of on-site staff to only those essential for transit operations, and mandating their strict compliance with protocols set forth by the Panamanian health authorities.
“The Panama Canal remains committed to providing industry-leading environmental, time and cost savings to shipping lines and shippers who want to take advantage of Panama’s all-water route and strategic geographic position. As such, the waterway will continue to operate normally and with a full contingency of personnel needed to sustain transit operations for the time ahead,” the Panama Canal Authority said in a statement.