To help mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Panama Canal has temporarily adjusted its reservation system.
Effective 4th May, 2020, the waterway introduced temporary changes to the requirements for booking guarantees placements and advance payment of reservation fees when a reservation is confirmed.
Shipowners and operators are now allowed to place the booking slot’s payment guarantee prior to the vessel initiating a transit.
"The Panama Canal has served customers for over a century's worth of ebbs and flows, and so we know the importance of adaptability and partnership during this time," said Panama Canal Administrator, Ricaurte Vásquez Morales. "The months ahead will be challenging across our industry, but we aim to help reduce the financial burden for our customers today, so we can all stand ready for a brighter future tomorrow."
This measure will be in place for 120 days, ending on 1st September, 2020 and comes as the result of talks between the Canal's leadership team and industry, during which the ACP collected input on how to best provide support to its customers.
In January, the Panama Canal began implementing measures to safeguard its sustained operations, the health of its workforce, customers, and the crew of ships in transit in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Later, in March, the waterway increased procedures, including a reduction of on-site staff to those essential for transit operations, and mandating strict compliance with protocols set down by the Panamanian health authorities.
The waterway will continue to operate normally and with a full complement of personnel needed to sustain transit operations for the foreseeable future, the ACP claimed.