PANAMA CITY, Panama, December 22, 2005 – More ships will be able to book reservations at the Panama Canal in the New Year, leading to increased levels of reliability at the waterway. The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced today the addition of two booking slots, available to “supers” (vessels 91 feet or more in beam). The booking slots were added in response to the greater demand of the Canal, as well as to satisfy customer requests for increased availability. Applications to transit using these additional slots will be received beginning Sunday, December 29, 2005 for transits starting January 1, 2006.

Booked vessels (those ships holding reservations) account for more than 50 percent of oceangoing transits. Utilization of the booking system is an increasing trend at the Canal – usage of the system increased this past fiscal year (FY 05) nearly five percent. Moreover, it has proven itself to be a reliable service, as demonstrated by a consistent record in Canal Waters Time, the average time it takes a vessel to navigate the Canal, including waiting time for passage. This past fiscal year (FY 05), CWT for booked vessels remained steady at 16.5 hours.

“The ACP’s, world-class workforce is maximizing the waterway’s resources to the advantage of its customers,” said Jorge L. Quijano, ACP Maritime Operations Director. “The addition of these two new booking slots will allow our customers to secure additional transit slots with a guaranteed passage date, thus increasing the reliability of the services provided by the waterway. This action keeps us abreast of the growing demand for the Panama Canal’s ‘All-Water Route.'”

Provisions for usage of the two new slots include: * No more than nine supers may be booked to transit southbound. Of these nine vessels, no more than seven can transit with full daylight hour restrictions. Similarly, no more than eight supers may be booked for transit northbound. And, of these eight vessels, no more than six can transit with full daylight hour restrictions. (The combined number of full daylight hour restricted vessels shall not exceed 10.)

*When Canal capacity is expected to be reduced, due to operational factors, to less than 34 vessels per day (also known as “Condition 2”), no more than five supers may be booked for transit in the same direction. Of these five vessels, no more than four can transit with full daylight hour restrictions. (The combined number of full daylight hour restricted vessels shall not exceed six.)

About the Panama Canal Authority

The Panama Canal Authority (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 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.