The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced this week that it is increasing the number of daily booking slots available for Neopanamax vessels from six to seven, effective Dec. 1, 2017.
With this measure, the Panama Canal is embracing the additional capacity afforded by the new larger locks. 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,” ACP administrator Jorge Quijano said. “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 now available for ships transiting northbound (from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean) and was first offered beginning Sept. 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, ACP said.
“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,” ACP explained.
The neopanamax locks can transit additional ships beyond the number of daily slots allotted. For example, the expanded canal transited a record 10 neopanamax ships on Nov. 17 and provides daily performance that exceeds the three to four daily transits originally expected.
ACP said it will continue to explore ways to expand its capacity as it works toward the goal of offering eight neopanamax reservation slots by the end of the first quarter of 2018 and gradually implements additional measures to increase capacity through 2019.