According to MANA, the neo-panamax boxship Cosco Shipping Panama made the inaugural transit of the expanded Panama Canal, which dramatically increase the size of containerships that transit from 5,000 to 14,000 teu. As a result Maersk said it is likely to re-route one or more services taking advantage of the expanded locks.
“The expansion provides us with more options, most notably to our Asia to South America and Asia to US East Coast routes. It is likely that Maersk Line will make increased use of the expanded Panama Canal and adjust one or more services with larger vessels to begin sailing through its new locks,” said Anders Boenaes, head of network, Maersk Line.
The Danish line has already deployed 13,092 teu capacity vessels on trades that transit the Panama Canal.
Maersk expects to make more than 400 transits of the canal this year carrying more than 400,000 containers.
It is in sharp contrast to 2013 when Maersk started rerouting services between Asia and the US East Coast via the Suez Canal due to the size limitations on the Panama Canal, as well as concerns over rising tolls.
In 2014 Maersk vessels made just 268 transits of the canal compared to 313 in the previous year, although this number was to increase to 313 again in 2015.