The Panama Canal facilitates global maritime trade, ensuring the smooth and safe passage of vessels, even amidst challenging weather conditions.

Competitiveness of the Route

The Panama Canal remains the primary route for 57.5% of the total cargo transported in container ships from Asia to the eastern coast of the United States, consistent with 2022 figures.

This figure has not decreased, so the Canal continues to be the preferred route for the container carrier segment, which has been minimally impacted by the adjustments to draft and transits associated with the measures incorporated to conserve water.

In the first nine months of the fiscal year 2023, 69.6% of the neopanamax container ships have a draft less than 44 feet. Many of the remaining vessels continue their transit through Panama, leveraging the multimodal system the route offers.

Despite current conditions, the cost of transiting goods through the Panama Canal averages 0.5% of the container’s cargo value. Thus, the temporary measures in place should not notably affect the final price of goods.

Aiming to optimize water use and mitigate impacts on cargo volume, the Panama Canal has implemented two daily measures:

  • At the panamax locks, the draft remains unchanged, and the number of transits is limited to an average of 22.
  • For the neopanamax locks, the available maximum draft is set at 44 feet, and the number of transits remain unaffected, at an average of 10 per day.

As of today, August 29, a total of 135 vessels are distributed between the Atlantic and Pacific entrances. Of these, 53 have made reservations and will transit the Panama Canal without delay on their scheduled date. Vessels without reservations experience a wait of 9 to 10 days, up from the usual 5-day wait.

While the goal is to keep queues below 90 vessels, this situation has been encountered in previous years.

Please refer to the following links for current information on Panama Canal transits, lake levels and conditions.

Vessels in queue for transit in the Panama Canal

Lake levels

The Panama Canal continues to serve international maritime trade

About the Panama Canal Authority (ACP)

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) is an autonomous legal entity of the Republic of Panama in charge of the operation, administration, management, preservation, maintenance, and modernization of the Panama Canal, as well as its activities and related services, so that the Canal may operate in a safe, continuous, efficient manner. For more information, please refer to the ACP’s website: or follow us on Twitter @thepanamacanal.