The Panama Canal will increase the number of daily booking slots available for Neopanamax vessels from six to seven as Canal operations become more efficient, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced.
The increased number of daily slots became effective December 1, 2017. With this measure, the Panama Canal is embracing the additional capacity allowed for by the new, larger locks, the ACP said in a statement.
The seven daily booking slots for Neopanamax vessels are offered in addition to the 23 slots available each day for transit through the Panamax locks.
“This increase is the direct result of our efficient, streamlined use of resources and effective collaboration as we meet the growing demand for transits through the Expanded Canal,” said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano. “We are excited to offer the additional capacity, and deliver on our promise to provide unparalleled safe and efficient service to our customers.”
The additional slot is available for ships transiting northbound from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. It was first offered beginning September 26 through a special competition in the first booking period in adherence to Panama Canal regulations.
“Container vessels will have preference over other vessel types when allocating these additional slots. If no container vessels are interested, the slot will be awarded to any vessel that participated in the special competition, based on the Panama Canal Customer Ranking. After the special competition, the slots will be available to all vessels on a first-come, first-served basis,” the ACP explained in its statement.
The Neopanamax Locks can transit additional ships beyond the number of daily slots allotted. For example, the Expanded Canal transited a 10 Neopanamax ships on November 17, 2017 – far exceeding the daily performance of three to four daily transits as originally expected.
The ACP said it will continue to explore ways to expand its capacity with a goal of offering eight Neopanamax reservation slots by the end of the first quarter of 2018, and gradually implementing new measures to increase capacity through 2019.