“The 22.2% increase from the previous year can be directly attributed to the added capacity provided by the expanded Canal,” said the ACP.
A total of 13,548 vessels transited during FY17, representing a 3.3% increase compared to totals the year before. Thanks to the larger post-panamax vessels now able to transit the expanded canal, the growth in traffic of 22.2% surpassed the already ambitious cargo projection of 399M PC/UMS the ACP had forecast for FY2017.
“This year’s success is a testament to the expanded canal’s success,” said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Quijano. “These record figures reflect not only the industry’s confidence in the expanded Canal, but also illustrate the Panama Canal’s continued ability to transform the global economy and revitalise the maritime industry.”
Less than six months after inauguration of the expanded canal, the waterway welcomed the YM Unity containership, its 500th Post-Panamax vessel transit. In March 2017, Mediterranean Shipping Company's MSC Anzu became the 1000th post-anamax vessel to transit the canal and in September 2017, the box ship Cosco Yantian marked 2,000 Post-Panamax transits, including the Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder, the first post-panamax cruise ship to transit. The post-panamax 14,863 teu-CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt became the largest ship to transit the canal to date in August 2017
In September 2017, the canal and the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) launched Panama’s Maritime Single Window (VUMPA), to streamline logistics paperwork for international customers. The Panama Canal also instituted modifications to the toll structure in response to a series of discussions with customers and a review of changing cargo patterns.
The Panama Canal currently serves 29 major liner services, including 15 Post-Panamax liner services, primarily on the US East Coast to Asia trade route.
The container segment continued to serve as the leading market segment of tonnage through the canal, accounting for 35.3%, 143m tonnes PC/UMS of which 89.1m tonnes transited the expanded canal. Tankers, which include LPG and LNG carriers, represented 105m tonnes PC/UMS, with bulk carriers, 79m tonnes PC/UMS and vehicle carriers, 47m tonnes PC/UMS.
In FY17, the main routes using the Panama Canal were between Asia and the US East Coast, 34%, the WCSA and the US East Coast, 13%, the WCSA and Europe, 7%, the WCCA and the US East Coast, 7% and inter-coastal South America, 5%.
The countries of China, Chile, Japan, Mexico and Colombia were some of the top users of the Panama Canal, while the United States continued to be the main user of the waterway representing the origin or destination for 68.3% of the total cargo transiting the canal.