Container carrier transit through the Panama and Suez Canals is reducing

The Panama Canal is set to significantly reduce daily neo-Panamax transit slots from eight to five starting January 2024, which will lead to increased congestion and container carrier delays, prompting carriers to impose new fees, while ongoing protests will further impact land access to Panamanian ports, Linerlytica reports.

The congestion on the canal has already started: as of November 26, a record number of 22 container carriers (with a total capacity of 190,000 TEUs) were waiting at the Panama Canal anchorage. Linerlytica expects the situation to worsen over the next two months when the new transit quotas enter into force.

In response to the increased congestion, several carriers have implemented new fees for transit through Panama.

Restrictions on ship transit through the Panama Canal on the one hand, and Houthi attacks on ships transiting the Red Sea to the Suez Canal on the other, are causing more ships to shift to the route around Africa, The Loadstar reports.


Four major container lines, including the global leader Maersk, have suspended traffic through the Red Sea in the wake of unsystematic shelling of merchant ships by the Houthis in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. This implies that routes will be redirected to avoid the Suez Canal via the Cape of Good Hope, which prolongs the journey by approximately ten days. According to Alphaliner, four out of the five major global container lines, which account for 54% of all container capacity, have announced the suspension of traffic through the Suez Canal. Only the Chinese COSCO has not made the announcement.