PANAMA CITY, Panama, June 6, 2006 – The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced today second quarter (Q2) operational metrics for fiscal year 2006. During Q2, there was an increase in net tonnage, total transits and transits of Panamax vessels. Additionally, there was a decrease in official accidents. Canal Waters Time (CWT), the average time it takes a vessel to transit the Canal including waiting time for passage, increased in Q2 and booking slot utilization remained steady. These metrics are based on operations from January through March, the second quarter of the ACP’s 2006 fiscal year.

Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) tonnage increased 5.7 percent – to 75.0 million PC/UMS tons from 70.9 million PC/UMS tons. In addition to a spike in tonnage, the Canal realized an increase in traffic. Total Canal transits increased 3.5 percent – to 3,862 transits from 3,730. Moreover, transits of Panamax vessels (100 feet or more in beam and the largest vessels that can pass through the Canal) increased 7.5 percent – to 1,501 transits from 1,396.

“The ACP’s hard work reaped rewards this past quarter, as demonstrated by the figures we are presenting today. The Canal is seeing more tonnage, increased traffic and a drop in accidents. I commend the ACP’s world-class workforce that relentlessly strives to ensure a safe and reliable service for our customers,” said ACP Maritime Operations Director Jorge L. Quijano.

The official accident rate decreased 3.4 percent – to 1.04 accidents per 1,000 transits from 1.07 accidents per 1,000 transits in FY 05. An official accident is one in which a formal investigation is requested and conducted.

Overall CWT increased 15.8 percent – to 30.08 hours from 25.98 hours. However, CWT for booked vessels (those ships holding reservations) increased slightly by 3.4 percent – to 16.85 hours from 16.30 hours. “The rise in CWT can be attributed to several factors. Foremost, world trade is booming and demand for the Canal’s services is increasing. Second, grain exports (through the Gulf ports to Asia) have increased significantly, especially since the infrastructure in the New Orleans area has shown firm signs of recovery from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Third, the additional surge in traffic occurred during the Canal’s peak season, thus creating an unusually high backlog,” said Jorge L. Quijano.

Utilization of the booking system increased 11.6 percent – to 2,006 booked transits (those ships holding reservations) this year from 1,797 last year. As a consequence of this, the percentage of booked transits to oceangoing transits increased 9.6 percent – to 59.9 percent this year from 54.7 percent last year.

The increase in booked transits resulted from a 12.3 percent increase in the number of booking slots made available – to 2,129 this year from 1,896 last year. This increase in available booking slots is in response to the needs expressed by our customers.

About the Panama Canal Authority

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

The Authority’s responsibility to the Panamanian people is paramount. The Canal belongs to the people and benefits from the Canal should accrue to as many Panamanians as possible. The Authority will plan its future so that it will continually contribute to the economic development and welfare of the citizens of Panama. For nearly 90 years, the Panama Canal has served as the global gateway – a pathway for the shipment of major world commodities. Since the end of 1999, the ACP assumed the responsibility for the management, operation and modernization of the Canal as well as the protection and conservation of its watershed.