​Panama Canal Increases Daily Transit Slots

By March 25, the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) will increase its maximum allowable daily transits in the Panamax Locks from 17 to 20. (PCA has maintained its maximum allowable daily transits for the Neopanamax Locks at 7—resulting in 27 total daily transits.) Since at least mid-October 2023, bulk grain vessels originating in the U.S. Gulf have avoided the Panama Canal, because of PCA restrictions. Likewise, since mid-December 2023 carriers have avoided the Suez Canal, because of conflict in the Red Sea. Instead, to reach East Asian buyers, most grain vessels persist in routing around Africa (Grain Transportation Report (GTR), January 18, 2024).

Although Panama is currently in its “dry season,” the “rainy season” typically begins in April or May. If rain returns in the coming months, PCA has stated it will progressively raise the number of daily transit slots to about 36 daily transits—close to the longterm average (GTR, February 15, 2024, fourth highlight).