The number of ships passing through the Panama Canal increased by 2 percent in the first quarter of the Panama Canal Authority’s fiscal year, ended Dec. 31.
The Canal Authority said total Canal transits increased to 3,590 transits from 3,520 a year earlier. Transits of supers, larger ships that require greater time and navigation skills to transit the Canal, increased 8.1 percent to 2,026 transits from 1,874.
Among the key segments of shipping, transits by dry bulk ships and tanker transits increased, while transits of container ships, refrigerated cargo ships and car carriers decreased.
Canal Waters Time, the average time it takes a vessel to transit the canal (including waiting time for passage), dropped significantly.
CWT decreased 27.5 percent to 20.29 hours from 27.97 hours. CWT for booked vessels, those ships holding reservations, also experienced a decrease of 20.7 percent to 13.43 hours from 16.94 hours.
“In the first quarter of 2010, we saw an increase in a few key areas – particularly tonnage and transits – which point to a global economy slowly, but surely, recovering,” said Manuel Benítez, the canal authority’s executive vice president of operations.
“We will go into the remainder of fiscal year 2010 with slightly positive projections and expect sluggish shipping segments to show some recovery,” he said.
Tonnage as measured by the Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) increased 3.5 percent to 80.9 million PC/UMS tons from 78.2 million PC/UMS tons.
The official accident rate declined 0.9 percent to 1.11 accidents per 1,000 transits from 1.12. An official accident is one in which a formal investigation is requested and conducted.
Utilization of the booking system decreased 52.6 percent – to 43.1 percent utilization from 90.9 percent in the same quarter of 2008.
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