The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) released third quarter (Q3) operational metrics today for fiscal year (FY) 2008. In Q3, total Canal transits and tonnage increased. There was also growth in key segments, most significantly tanker and passenger transits. These metrics are based on operations from April through June 2008, the third quarter of the ACP's 2008 fiscal year, and are compared with Q3 of FY 2007.

Total Canal transits increased 2.5 percent during Q3 – from 3,726 to 3,821 transits. Booked transits (excluding auctioned slots) rose 4.5 percent – from 1,954 to 2,041 transits. Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) tonnage also increased slightly, rising 0.9 percent from 2007 – from 76.5 million PC/UMS tons to 77.2 million PC/UMS tons. Tanker transits increased most significantly, up 9.1 percent – from 536 to 585 transits – while vehicle carriers increased from 192 to 194 transits. Container transits decreased from 902 to 876 transits, and passenger ships increased slightly, from 37 to 40 transits. Tanker tonnage also rose 10 percent – from 11.1 million PC/UMS tons to 12.2 million PC/UMS tons.

“While we continue to see flat economic trends and a slowdown in growth on a global scale, the Panama Canal experienced an increase in transits and tonnage during the third quarter,” said ACP Executive Vice President of Operations Manuel Benítez. “The ACP continues to look for innovative ways to meet existing and projected world trade demand through better service, workforce training and Canal improvements. We expect current positive trends to continue in the coming months.”

Average Canal Waters Time (CWT), the average time it takes a vessel to transit the Canal (including waiting time for passage), rose 56.3 percent in Q3, increasing to 38.31 hours from 24.50 hours. CWT for booked vessels (those ships holding reservations) increased 19.5 percent – from 16.55 hours in 2007 to 19.77 hours.

The quarter’s increase in CWT can be attributed to a surge in arrivals within the waterway’s peak season (February - May), coinciding with maintenance work at the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Locks. Weather conditions and the mix in size of arriving vessels also contributed to the CWT delays.

The accident rate during Q3 of FY 2008 was 0.26 accidents per 1000 transits, down from 0.54 accidents per 1,000 transits during Q3 of FY 2007. An official accident is one in which a formal investigation is requested and conducted.