Panama, March 27, 2001. Tonnage and containerized cargo transported via the Panama Canal have been rising steadily. During the first five months of the fiscal year (October 1, 2000 to February 28, 2001), a total 81.8 million long tons were transported through the Canal, a 3.6 percent increase over fiscal year 2000. Containerized cargo alone increased by 10.2 percent, racking up a record 14.2 million long tons.

Transits increased 1.3 percent, averaging 33.9 per day for a total of 5,125. Of that total, 35.2 percent or 1,915 corresponded to Panamax vessel traffic, which rose 5.7 percent, according to Panama Canal Administrator Alberto Aleman Zubieta, who released the figures during a Panama Canal Authority (ACP) Board of Directors meeting this week.

Regarding the Canal maintenance and improvement program, Aleman Zubieta reported that the Mindi cutter suction dredge is completing maintenance dredging at the Balboa Port entrance and in the waterway’s eastern pacific sector. The Culebra Cut widening project is 93 percent complete and set to conclude on schedule, by December 2001.

The meeting concluded with the announcement of another record-breaker, the Celebrity Cruises Infinity, which paid $201,531.69 in tolls for her maiden Canal transit on March 8, 2001, thus becoming the first to surpass $200,000 in Canal tolls and the largest passenger vessel to ever transit the Canal.

The meeting, the third in this fiscal year, took place at the Canal Administration Building in Panama City. The Minister for Canal Affairs and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Ricardo Martinelli, presided; in attendance were board members Moises Mizrachi, Samuel Lewis Navarro, Adolfo Ahumada, Eloy Alfaro, Roberto Roy, Raul Montenegro, Alfredo Ramirez, Emanuel Gonzalez-Revilla and Abel Rodriguez, as well as Administrator Alberto Aleman Zubieta, Deputy Administrator Ricaurte Vasquez and other Canal executives.