Panama Canal claws back Asia – US east coast calls

Just over a year since its expansion, the Panama Canal has clawed back most of the all-water traffic between Asia and the east coast of North America, which it temporarily lost to the competing the Suez Canal route.

The Panama Canal’s share of total headhaul capacity on the all-water route now stands at 74%, according to analysts at Alphaliner, a return to the level which the route enjoyed in 2010. At its lowest point, in early 2016, the Panama Canal only commanded 48% of this tradelane.

There still remain five all-water services which have retained a full Suez routing on their headhaul and backhaul legs, while a further five all-water services, which use the Panama Canal in the headhaul direction, return to Asia via the Suez Canal route on their backhaul leg.

“The battle for the all-water market share is continuing, with the [Panama Canal Authority] planning to implement reduced tariffs for neo-panamax containerships from 1 October 2017,” Alphaliner noted in its most recent weekly report. These will however only apply to backhaul voyages to Asia – a move clearly aimed to drawing back the Suez Canal services.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) is not sitting back however and has also extended its rebate on toll charges for a further six months until the end of 2017.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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