The Panama Canal has scheduled a locks maintenance outage in Gatun locks from July 5th to July 14th (10 days). Significant delays can be expected during the outage period and subsequent days, until normal operations resume and the accumulated backlog is reduced. Depending on the level of arrivals the reduction of the backlog can take days or even weeks. Once full capacity is restored, after a few days, the tendency will be towards the normalization of delays to levels of 3 to 4 days. The Canal Reservation system will be operating under condition 2 during the outage period and this means there will be less slots being made available for booked transits. The demand for the lesser amount of slots sold through the regular system will undoubtedly increase to extreme levels as we approach the date of the outage and the booked slots sold through Auction will begin to attract significant interest and money from big players. In the past Auctioned slots have attracted amounts of over US$750k.
With any announced long outage, a big part of the inventory of the regular booked slots tends to be depleted four to five weeks in advance to the actual closure and our customers are strongly encouraged to plan ahead and book as far in advance as possible, allowing some margin for any unexpected hold up that could affect the ship's ETA. We can not stress enough the value of securing a reserved/booked slot for a crossing during an outage period. Vessels without a reserved/booked transit can experience delays in excess of 14 days during an outage. Because of the limited capacity, the majority of which is saved for the reserved/booked ships , only a very minimal number of ships with unbooked status make the crossing whilst the outage lasts. This results in an accumulation of non-booked ships at both ends of the canal and the consequent very slow progress in the waiting queue.