Maersk Switches Liner Service From Panama Canal to Land Bridge

Maersk Switches Liner Service From Panama Canal to Land Bridge

The ongoing drought-induced Panama Canal restrictions have resulted in Maersk electing to use a land bridge to traverse the Central American country. 

In an advisory note, Maersk informed customers that its northbound and southbound OC1 service would be making use of a rail connection instead of the Panama Canal. 

The change has been made to safeguard customer supply chains and will see the company using the Panama Canal Railway to transport containers across Panama.

As per its advisory note, Maersk said: 

“Based on current and projected water levels in Gatun Lake, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) is implementing changes to the booking process to control the passages through the Panama Canal. 

Following a review of our OC1 service connecting the trade route between Oceania and the Americas, we have made the decision to utilise the Panama Canal Railway to safeguard our customers’ supply chains. This decision follows evaluation of the current schedule impact from the delays at the Australian East Coast ports coupled with the modifications to the booking process of the Panama Canal’. 

As a result of this change, the OC1 route will effectively be split into two legs. Vessels transiting on the Pacific side of the service will turn at Balboa, Panama, depositing cargo for Latin America and North America. They will then pick up cargo headed for Australia and New Zealand. 

Vessels on the Atlantic side of the service will turn at Manzanillo, Panama, where they will deposit cargo headed for Australia and New Zealand and collect cargo headed for Latin and North America.

As we’ve written previously, the unprecedented drought conditions in Panama have resulted in extensive disruptions to the Canal’s operations. As of this month, there are only 24 transit slots available (well below the normal level of 36). Furthermore, extensive draught restrictions are in place, impacting the amount of cargo that can be carried. 

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Anthony York
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