To help mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Panama Canal announced a temporary adjustment to its reservation system that will provide customers with added flexibility and relief.
Effective May 4, 2020, the waterway will implement temporary changes to the requirements for the placement of booking guarantees and advance payment of reservation fees when the reservation is confirmed. Customers will be allowed to place the guarantee for the payment of the booking slot prior to the vessel initiating transit.
“The Panama Canal has served customers for over a century’s worth of ebbs and flows, and so we know the importance of adaptability and partnership during this time,” said Panama Canal Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales. “The months ahead will be challenging across our industry, but we aim to help reduce the financial burden for our customers today so we can all stand ready for a brighter future tomorrow.”
The measure will be in place for 120 days, lifting on September 1, 2020. It comes as the result of dialogues between the Canal’s leadership team and industry leaders, during which the Canal collected input on how to best provide support to its customers.
In January, the Panama Canal began implementing measures to safeguard its sustained operations, the health of its workforce, customers, and the crew of ships in transit in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In March, the waterway instituted heightened procedures, including a reduction of on-site staff to only those essential for transit operations, and mandating their strict compliance with protocols set forth by the Panamanian health authorities.
The Panama Canal remains committed to providing industry-leading environmental, time and cost savings to shipping lines and shippers who want to take advantage of Panama’s all-water route and strategic geographic position. As such, the waterway will continue to operate normally and with a full contingency of personnel needed to sustain transit operations for the time ahead.