The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) released second quarter (Q2) operational metrics today for fiscal year 2007. In Q2, there was an increase in net tonnage, total transits and booking slot utilization. There was also an increase in official accidents. Canal Waters Time (CWT), the average time it takes a vessel to transit the Canal including waiting time for passage, decreased. These metrics are based on operations from January through March of 2007, the second quarter of the ACP's 2007 fiscal year, and compared to Q2 of fiscal year 2006.

Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) tonnage increased 6.30 percent - to 79.7 million PC/UMS tons from 75 million PC/UMS tons. The steady climb in tonnage was complemented by an increase in traffic, including transits of Panamax vessels (the largest vessel that can transit the Canal). Total Canal transits increased 4.7 percent - to 4,052 transits from 3,869. Transits of Panamax vessels increased 3.90 percent - to 1,559 transits from 1,501.

"The Panama Canal remains a vital and economically competitive transit system in the maritime and shipping industry. We are keeping up with heightened levels of demand for the waterway - handling more traffic and tonnage - while keeping transit time consistent, if not reduced," stated ACP Maritime Operations Director Manuel Benitez.

During Q2, there was also an increase in traffic of supers (vessels 91 feet or more in beam) and container vessels. Transits of supers increased 8.7 percent - to 1,930 transits from 1,776. Due to its size, supers require more time and resources to transit the waterway. Additionally, transits of container vessels swelled by 12.8 percent - to 880 vessels from 780.

Despite an increase in total transits, CWT decreased 8.80 percent - to 27.43 hours from 30.09 hours. Five official accidents occurred during Q2, compared to four accidents during the same period of the previous fiscal year. Of note, the cumulative number of accidents for the entire fiscal year is currently five, which equals the cumulative number for that same period of the previous year. An official accident is one in which a formal investigation is requested and conducted.

Utilization of the Canal's booking system experienced a gradual 0.5 percent increase during Q2 - to 94.9 percent utilization from 94.5 percent.

The ACP is the autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating and maintaining the Panama Canal. The operation of the ACP is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors. For more information, please refer to the ACP's Web site: