Panama Canal regains past glory

Weekly capacity on Far East to US East Coast all-water services has jumped by 20% year-on-year, to reach a record high of 143,000 TEU this month, discloses market analyst Alphaliner.

A total of 25 weekly strings serve the trade at present, four more than a year ago. Six strings were launched between March and May this year, out of which four are brand new services.

Apart from these new loops, two seasonal summer strings were re-launched at the end of the winter slack season.

The Panama route at present accounts for 51% of the total capacity on the all-water trade, retaking the lead that the Panama Canal has traditionally had on this trade over the Suez Canal, Alphaliner added.

The Panama share had been dropping steadily from 74% in 2010, to an all-time low of 44% in February this year. This was before the launch of the new strings shifted the balance back in favour of the Panama Canal.

In fact, five of the six strings launched or re-launched this year use the Panama Canal. The 16 container services currently routed through Panama have a combined weekly capacity of 73,000 TEU with an average capacity of 4,570 TEU, compared to nine strings routed through Suez with a total capacity of 70,000 TEU and an average capacity of 7,780 TEU.

The Panama Canal has also started filling and testing the new locks on both its Pacific and Atlantic sides.

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