The canal authority delays fee increases.
By Michael McGrady, Maritime Direct Americas & Pacific Correspondent
PANAMA CANAL — Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced earlier this week that it would postpone increases in canal transit fees following calls from shipping industry trade groups to reconsider rate hikes in light of the most recent global supply chain disruptions.
“The Panama Canal values its customers’ input, as it looks for ways to bring value and improve our service on a constant basis,” said authority administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales. “We always take into account how the changes we make may affect our customers and will work alongside them to ensure that their feedback is heard, and our goals are aligned.”
High rates for the canal’s transit reservation system were scheduled to start on April 15 but will now start on a June 1 schedule. This allows the maritime industry to prepare and adjust to the booking fees, the canal authority said. According to the authority, the proposed changes represent a cost increase per transit reservation of $20,000 at a minimum to $58,500 at a maximum cost increase.
The delay also comes after the International Chamber of Shipping and a few other trade groups expressed concern over the rate hikes.
Guy Platten, the secretary-general for the International Chamber of Shipping, responded to the ACP fee delay with support.
“We are reassured to see that ACP has responded to industry’s calls to postpone its proposed transit reservation price increases until June 1, giving industry time to fully prepare for these changes,” Platten said. “The increases represent a significant rise in cost, especially considering the ongoing economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”