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Panama Canal extends relief measures for customers

Panama Canal extends relief measures for customers

Panama City: The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) today revealed that it will extend its existing programme for short-term cost reduction and greater flexibility to its Reservation System until April 30, 2010.

The program, which consists of temporary measures designed to help mitigate the impact of the economic crisis on the Canal's clients, was the result of consultations with customers. It was initially introduced June 1, 2009 for four months ending September 30, but has been extended by the ACP due to requests from its customers and the Round Table of International Shipping Associations.

The measures consist in a new definition of OEballast transit allowing payment of the ballast transit rate for vessels with up to 30% of cargo aboard. Previously, ships paid the lower ballast transit rate if they had no cargo aboard. The ballast transit rate is $57.60/teu, versus the laden rate of $72/teu. Tolls are based on vessel capacity, which will not change.

The reductions in the base reservation price for all segments that use the ACP's Reservation System will continue. Additionally, vessels that fail to arrive on-schedule have the option to pay a reduced charge to keep the reservation and transit that same day. This temporary measure provides shipping lines with greater flexibility. The percentage reduction varies depending on the vessel's arrival time.

The ACP also announced greater flexibility for slot substitutions, which means that Canal customers will continue to be able to request slot substitutions without additional costs up to 30 days before the date of a vessel's transit. Previously, customers could make such requests without an additional charge if that request was made at least 60 days prior to the date of transit. This temporary measure grants shipping lines more flexibility for slot substitutions, allowing them to replace one vessel for another with similar dimensions.  [01/10/09]