Closing its 2017 fiscal year on 30 September, the Panama Canal announced that the waterway welcomed a record 403.8 million Panama Canal tons (PC/UMS) of cargo in this period, the largest amount of annual tonnage ever transited in its 103-year history.
According to figures, a total of 13,548 vessels transited the Canal during its FY17, representing a 3.3% increase compared to totals the previous year.
Moreover, thanks to the larger Neopanamax vessels now able to transit the Expanded Canal, the growth in traffic translated into a 22.2% increase in total annual tonnage from FY16, and helped the Panama Canal surpass the already ambitious cargo projection of reaching 399 million PC/UMS.
“These record figures reflect not only the industry’s confidence in the Expanded Canal, but also illustrate the Panama Canal’s continued ability to transform the global economy and revitalize the maritime industry,” said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano.
More specifically, the container segment continued to serve as the leading market segment of tonnage through the Canal, accounting for 35.3% of the total cargo received. This equated to a total 143 million tons PC/UMS, of which 89.1 million tons transited the Expanded Canal.
Tankers, including LPG and LNG carriers, represented the following market segment (105 million PC/UMS). The next leading segments included bulk carriers (79 million PC/UMS) and vehicle carriers (47 million PC/UMS).
Further, in FY17, the main routes using the Panama Canal were between Asia and the U.S. East Coast (34%), the West Coast of South America and the U.S. East Coast (13%), the West Coast of South America and Europe (7%), the West Coast of Central America and the U.S. East Coast (7%) and intercoastal South America (5%).
The countries of China, Chile, Japan, Mexico and Colombia were some of the top users of the Panama Canal, while the United States continued to be the main user of the waterway representing the origin or destination for 68.3% of the total cargo transiting the Canal.
“We look forward to maintaining our partnership with customers to deliver the same safe and efficient service for the next year ahead,” said Mr. Quijano. “Through our innovative and reliable practices, we continue to position Panama as the logistics hub of the Americas.”