The Panama Canal has closed the first half of the 2020 fiscal year (FY20) with a tonnage of 258.4 million Panama Canal tons (PC/UMS), while closely monitoring the global impact that COVID-19 will have in the coming months, in order to prepare and continue facilitating world trade with a continuous and safe service.

The 258.4 million PC/UMS was registered from October 2019 to March 2020, compared to the 247.4 million PC/UMS tons intermodal for the first half of the current 2020 Fiscal Year.

Meanwhile the Panama Canal registered 7,528 transits during the same period, versus the projected 7,029 transits.

In terms of total tonnage, the container segment continued to lead with 82.1 million PC/UMS tons during FY20 October-March, followed by bulk carriers at 41.8 million PC/UMS tons and chemical tankers at 39.9 million PC/UMS tons.

“Despite the challenges facing the industry today, our numbers demonstrate that world trade is still moving, and the Panama Canal is still playing its part to help ensure the continuity of global supply chains,” said Panama Canal Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales. “While we face uncertainty in the weeks ahead, we are committed, now more than ever, to ensuring our route remains open and reliable for the communities around the world that depend on us for essential goods.”

The Panama Canal is also closely monitoring and assessing the evolution of the pandemic in order to have a holistic picture of the situation, while making sure the most up-to-date data is used to inform the Canal’s decision-making. This includes ongoing scenario planning, as well as closely monitoring various factors that drive global commerce, including, but not limited to: the state of the US-China trade relationship, the implementation of IMO2020 guidelines, the price of oil, the implementation of water conservation measures and draft adjustments, and the use of alternative routes, including the Suez Canal, Cape of Good Hope and intermodal.

To safeguard the Panama Canal’s sustained transit operations, the waterway began adopting a series of safety procedures across its operations in January, following the guidelines of the Ministry of Health of Panama (MINSA), which have since escalated across its workforce. Recent changes include the reduction of the Panama Canal’s on-site staff to only those essential to transit operations, and their strict compliance with the guidance set forth by the Panamanian health authorities for all vessel transits, among other efforts.

To protect the health and safety of the Canal’s workforce and customer’s crews, all Canal personnel, including pilots, boarding officers, and linehandlers who may need to board transiting vessels, will be transported in small groups to reduce the risks of spreading the virus. All vessels arriving to Panama Canal waters are also required to report their last ports of call, and any changes in their crews within two weeks prior to their arrival to any port with COVID-19 spread alert.

The Canal will continue to operate normally and with the personnel needed to sustain the waterway’s transit operations.