For the fiscal quarter – January through March 2006 – there was an increase in net tonnage, total transits of the waterway and transits of Panamax ships.
Using the Panama Canal/Universal Measurement system (PC/UMS), tonnage increased by 5.7% year over year, from 70.9 million to 75.0 million PC/UMS. Accompanying the tonnage boost, the Canal’s traffic grew by 3.5% to 3,862 transits compared to last year’s 3,730. Panamax ship transits -- those of 100 feet or more in beam -- the largest that can pass through the Canal, increased from 1,396 to 1,501, a jump of 7.5%.
The average time it takes for a vessel to make the transit, Canal Waters Time (CWT) increased during the quarter. The Canal Authority attributes the increase of 15.8% in CWT to three factors: World trade is booming; grain exports from U.S. Gulf ports to Asia have grown as infrastructure in the New Orleans area have begun recovery; and there was a traffic surge during the waterway’s peak season that created an unusually high backlog.