Panama Canal toll discounts may not encourage carriers to reroute immediately


DREWRY is doubtful whether the Panama Canal Authority's (ACP) measure to reduce tolls for southbound neo-panamax vessels from October 1 will have an immediate impact.

The ACP is offering the financial incentive in a bid to attract the other six Asia-US east coast services that currently don't make their return voyages via the Panama Canal, reported The Loadstar of London.

The new tariff, U$10-$15 per TEU below the unchanged northbound tariff, will only apply to containerships of 6,000 TEU and above. To qualify for the discount, vessels are required to carry at least 70 per cent of their maximum capacity on the headhaul voyage, and complete the round trip within 28 days.

Drewry calculates that, for the eight services that currently round-trip via the canal with an average vessel size of 6,900 TEU, the saving would amount to $30,000 per voyage, and these 80 ships would cumulatively qualify for a discount of some $13 million on the present toll structure.

However, the Egyptian Government recently rolled out substantial reductions for container vessels transiting the Suez Canal, aimed at attracting more business to boost revenue that declined 3.2 per cent in 2016 to US$5 billion. And with bunker fuel still relatively cheap, the ACP discount is unlikely to win over carriers that route via the Cape of Good Hope.

Nevertheless, Drewry believes the ACP will see some improved revenue - but from the gradual deployment of bigger ships through the expanded locks, rather than from rerouting.

"We do not expect to see much, if any, change to carriers' routing plans this year," Drewry said.

Source: Schednet 

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