Panama Canal gains in revenue, tonnage

Panama Canal gains in revenue, tonnage

The Panama Canal Authority said revenues rose 15 percent to $921 million and total tonnage increased 3 percent for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 compared to the year-ago period.

In a year-end report, the PCA said while tonnage grew, average transit time in the canal fell to slightly below 23 hours and the number of maritime accidents were reduced by nearly one-third to 12 incidents out of a total of 13,154 transits.

A substantial increase in Panamax ships in 2003 also helped increase tonnage. The number of Panamax ships transiting the canal increased 37 percent to 980 vessels. Forty percent of the 11,725 oceangoing vessels that transited the waterway in 2003 were Panamax-size, compared to the 38.5 percent registered in the preceding fiscal year.

The authority also noted that volume increased in grains, automobiles and auto parts, chemicals and petrochemicals, refrigerated products and coke carbon.

New construction and other upgrades helped the canal handle increased traffic. These projects include deepening of the Gatun Lake channel; acquisition of new locomotives and rehabilitation of the locomotive tracks; the addition of new tugboats; improved aids to navigations; a training and research maritime simulator center, and the implementation of the Automatic Identification System vessel tracking system.