In January 2017, the Panama Canal set a new monthly tonnage record of 36.1 million Panama Canal tons (PC/UMS), with the transit of 1,260 ships through both the expanded and original locks, the canal authority announced.
The previous record was set in December 2016, when 1,166 ships transited the waterway reaching a total of 35.4 million PC/UMS.
“This increase reiterates the importance of the Expanded Canal, and it’s further proof of the maritime industry’s continued confidence in the Panama Canal and the impact it will have on the future of global trade,” said the Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano.
Before the inauguration of the expanded canal on June 26, 2016, the monthly tonnage record was 30.4 million PC/UMS, which was set in October 2014.
The expansion program included the construction of a new set of locks on the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the waterway and the excavation of more than 150 million cubic meters of material, creating a second lane of traffic and doubling the cargo capacity of the waterway.
The expanded locks are 70 feet wider and 18 feet deeper than those in the original canal.
Seven months after the beginning of operations, the expanded canal has transited more than 750 Neopanamax vessels – more than 50 percent of which were containerships. In addition, the expanded canal has accommodated liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels, as well as bulk carriers, tankers and vehicle carriers.
What is more, in April 2017, the expanded canal is scheduled to welcome the passage of the first Neopanamax cruise ship. Neopanamax passenger vessels are capable of transporting up to 4,000 passengers, nearly twice as much as the Panamax vessels that are able to transit the original locks.
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) in August started accepting booking requests from Neopanamax cruise ships for transit dates beginning April 1, 2017.