Panama Canal tweaks payment system to help customers during the pandemic

Panama Canal
Source: The Panama Canal Authority

The Panama Canal is adjusting its booking system to provide customers added flexibility and relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Effective May 4, 2020, the waterway will implement temporary changes to the requirements for the placement of booking guarantees and advance payment of reservation fees when the reservation is confirmed.

As a result, customers will be allowed to place the guarantee for the payment of the booking slot before the vessel starts the transit. 

Previously, ships were required to pay fees within 48 hours of making reservations to transit.

“The Panama Canal has served customers for over a century’s worth of ebbs and flows, and so we know the importance of adaptability and partnership during this time,” said Panama Canal Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales.

“The months ahead will be challenging across our industry, but we aim to help reduce the financial burden for our customers today so we can all stand ready for a brighter future tomorrow.”

The measure will be in place for 120 days, lifting on September 1, 2020, and comes on the back of input from industry leaders, the port authority said.

As a response to the pandemic, the canal authority has reduced its on-site staff to only those essential for transit operations and is mandating strict compliance with safety and protection requirements.

The canal’s workforce and customer’s crews, all canal personnel who may need to board transiting vessels, are transported in small groups to reduce the risks of spreading the virus.

All vessels arriving to Panama Canal waters are also required to report their last ports of call, and any changes in their crews within two weeks prior to their arrival to any port with COVID-19 spread alert.

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