Overall, the amount of time it takes for a ship to move through the waterway, called Canal Waters Time (CWT), grew to 29.97 hours in the quarter--from October to December 2006--from 20.57 hours, a 45.7% increase. The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) cited significant growth in demand for transits as one reason for the extra average transit time. Work on the Gatún Locks for 11 days also slowed traffic. In terms of increased movement, the passenger vessel season was at its peak during the Quarter, with reservations up 10.8%.
Tonnage moving through the canal, measured in Panama Canal/Universal Measurement system (PC/UMS) units grew 11.7%, from71.5 million to 79.9 PM/UMS. Beside tonnage increases, traffic grew 8%, to 3,558 transits, up from 3,299.
"These metrics illustrate that demand for the Canal is steadily increasing," says ACP Acting Director of Maritime Operations, Captain Arceio Hartlye. "Particularly among tankers, container vessels, vehicle carriers and refrigerated cargo." Transits of newer larger ships, those 91 feet or more in the beam, grew 14.6% in the Quarter, up from 1,718 to 1,968. These require greater time and skills to move through the Canal.