The Panama Canal Authority has unveiled a series of measures aimed at optimizing transit operations while ensuring safe navigation through the waterway.

Scheduled maintenance work at the Gatun Locks, set to take place from May 7 to 15, will necessitate a temporary reduction in daily transits from 20 to 17 at the Panamax locks.

However, the Canal will implement significant increases in transit capacity thereafter, raising the total number of daily transits from 24 to 32:

  • Effective May 16 through May 31, the number of daily transits through the Panamax locks will rise from 17 to 24.
  • Starting June 1, the number of daily transits through the Neopanamax locks will increase from 7 to 8.
  • In addition to these adjustments, the maximum permitted draft for vessels transiting the Neopanamax locks will be raised to 13.71 meters (45 feet) from June 15 onwards, up from the current limit of 13.41 meters (44 feet). This adjustment in draft allowance is informed by careful analysis of water availability and takes into account projections for Gatun Lake levels, ensuring optimal conditions for navigation.

The decision to implement these measures follows extensive analysis and monitoring of water resources, including the efficient utilization of water stored in Alhajuela Lake (which by regulation and design can reach up to 190 feet without affecting the production of drinking water). Recent precipitation patterns have also contributed to the Canal’s ability to optimize transit operations.