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Panama Canal increases daily transits to 24 from 16 January

Panama Canal Panama Canal neopanamax locks.jpeg
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has pulled back from a threatened reduction in transits to just 18 daily from the 1 February next year as rainfall improves.

In a Notice to Shippers the ACP said it will increase the number of daily transits to 24 as of next January “because the November rains were not as deficient as those in October, coupled with the results of the water saving measures and restrictions implemented.”

The measure will be effective 16 January 2024 and remain in place until further changes in condtion

Currently, 22 vessels transit daily, divided into six neopanamaxes and 16 panamaxes as a restriction measure due to the water low levels of Gatun Lake, provoked by the drought caused by the El Niño phenomenon. The move up to 24 transits in mid-January while an improvement is still well below the normal number of 36 daily.

October 2023 was the driest month in the Canal watershed in history. In anticipation of the possibility of a worsening situation in November and December, the decision was taken on October 30, to progressively adjust the number of daily transits to 24 in November; 22 in December; 20 in January and 18 in February.  


Vessel Type       Usual Scenario  Current Scenario    January 2024

Neopanamax         10                         6                                7

Panamax               26                        16                               17

TOTAL                   36                        22                               24

The Panama Canal said it will limit to one booking quota per customer per date, with some exceptions, for quotas offered to vessels competing through the booking system, giving the vessels wishing to transit the Canal to have a better chance of obtaining a reservation.

There are just 23 vessels without reservations waiting as of December 15 and another 41 with slots booked now in the queue and the authority has been encouraging more companies to book slots to ease the waiting time.

This year 2023 has been the second driest year in the recorded history of the Panama Canal watershed, the Canal has implemented an operational strategy focused on water conservation and transit reliability in the face of low rainfall and consequent lower lake levels.  

These measures, together with direct communication with customers and the country, have been fundamental in adapting to the difficult climatic circumstances.