Safety Record Improves; Rise in Tonnage, Traffic and Revenue

PANAMA CITY, Panama, August 3, 2004 –The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced today third quarter (Q3) operational metrics for fiscal year 2004. Q3 data reveals an increase in total transits, growth in revenue and a rise in PC/UMS tonnage moved through the Canal. Moreover, the Canal’s safety improved with a significant decline in accidents. These metrics are based on operations from April through June of 2004, the third quarter of the ACP’s 2004 fiscal year.

Two official accidents were reported this quarter compared with five in Q3 of FY2003 – a 60 percent reduction. An official accident is one in which a formal investigation is requested and conducted.

Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) tonnage increased this quarter by 13.2 percent – to 68,120,039 PC/UMS tons from 60,155,135 PC/UMS tons reported in Q3 FY2003. Total revenue for Q3 FY2004 increased 18.1 percent – to $192.7 million from $163.1 million in Q3 FY2003.

Total transits increased 9.4 percent – to 3,732 from 3,411 reported in Q3 FY2003. Among these transits, there was a 20.4 percent boost in Panamax vessel traffic – to 1,370 vessels from 1,138.

Container tonnage experienced a 22 percent rise – to 14,172 tons* from 11,617 tons* reported in Q3 FY2003. Crude oil increased 41.4 percent – to 1,859 tons* from 1,315 tons*. Container tonnage continues to rise due to increased containerization and trade between the United States and Asia. Movement of crude oil through the Canal continues to increase due to economic demand. (*Figures reported in thousands of long tons.)

“Business is thriving at the Panama Canal – thanks to the dedication and hard work of our
world-class team. The Canal strives to meet new demands of the maritime and shipping industry while we constantly seek to improve the waterway’s safety, reliability and efficiency,” said Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta.

Maintenance and capital improvement initiatives – such as the replacement of the locomotive tow track at Gatun Locks – and increases in traffic and tonnage led to a rise in Canal Waters Time (CWT), the average time it takes a vessel to navigate the Canal including waiting time for passage. CWT for booked vessels increased 3.7 percent – to 16.43 from 15.84 hours. Booked vessels account for nearly half of all transits. Total CWT increased 34.7 percent – to 28 hours in Q3 FY2004 from 20.8 hours in Q3 FY2003. The improvement projects are part of the permanent modernization program and will ultimately lower future CWT and enhance Canal efficiency.

About the Panama Canal Authority (ACP)
The ACP is the autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating and maintaining the Panama Canal. The operation of the ACP is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors. For more information, please refer to the ACP’s website: