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Panama Canal proves to be a double-edged sword for lines

The newly inaugurated Panama Canal may not be as beneficial as it appears for the liner industry.

Although the new locks and a deeper, wider shipping channels will potentially double the waterway’s capacity, the increased efficiencies of larger neo-panamax boxships may ultimately undermine rates, according to the Xeneta container benchmarking and market intelligence platform.

The upgraded canal opened on 26 June with the transit of the 9,472-teu Cosco Shipping Panama (built 2016), giving containerships up to around 13,000 teu all-water access from Asia to the US East Coast (USEC).

Two big names of the liner industry, Maersk Line and Hapag-Lloyd, have not booked any Panama Canal slots yet.

Maersk told TradeWinds it plans to deploy vessels of up to 9,000 teu in the third quarter. Hapag-Lloyd is probably not going to use the expanded waterway before Christmas, when one of its 10,500-teu newbuildings will have joined its fleet.

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