Maersk Line Hints at Increasing Use of New Panama Canal

Danish container shipping giant Maersk Line is likely to make increased use of the Expanded Panama Canal and reroute one or more services with larger vessels to begin sailing through the new Panama Canal locks, according to the company.

In 2016, Maersk Line is expecting to perform more than 400 vessel transits through the Canal whilst carrying more than 400,000 containers.

“We look forward to seeing our larger vessels pass through the new locks. It is a very positive development for trade, Panama and the region, and of course the shipping lines that transit this important corridor every day,” Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer, Maersk Line, said.

The Panama Canal accounts for roughly 5% of world sea trade and the expanded Panama Canal is estimated to generate a 3% increase in cargo volumes transiting the canal. Since 60% of the Panama Canal traffic either begins or ends in US ports it will have a direct, notable impact on the trade between Asia and the United States East Coast.

“The expansion provides us with more options, most notably to our Asia to South America and Asia to US East Coast routes. It is likely that Maersk Line will make increased use of the expanded Panama Canal and adjust one or more services with larger vessels to begin sailing through its new locks,” said Anders Boenaes, Head of Network, Maersk Line.

The extension of the Panama Canal will double the waterway’s capacity and allow the passage of larger vessels, from the so-called Panamax vessels that carry up to 5,000 TEUs to the New Panamax vessels with a capacity of up to 14,000 TEUs.

The USD 5.25 billion Expanded Panama Canal is now officially open for business, as the new waterway handled its first commercial transit when the Neopanamax containership COSCO Shipping Panama sailed through its Agua Clara and Cocoli locks yesterday.

The regular schedule of transits through the canal is expected to start on June 27.

There are currently 170 reservations for Neopanamax ships, commitments of two new liner services to the Expanded Canal, and a reservation for the first LNG vessel, which will transit in late July.

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