Panama Canal – Booking & Auction System
The Panama Canal Authority has implemented several changes to the Transit Reservation System in order to better serve the needs of their customers, such as vessel swaps, substitutions, change of transit date. However, customers with lower rankings have expressed concern regarding difficulties in acquiring booking slots, particularly in the 3rd period, due to the “weighted ranking” system, which tends to favor customers with higher rankings, leaving them with no option but to wait their turn to transit on a first come-first served basis.
To provide these customers with an alternative, the ACP will offer an additional booking slot through an auction process which will only be available on dates when ALL booking slots for either SUPERS (91ft in beam or over but under 107ft) or REGULARS (under 91ft in beam) have been allocated. The auction process will begin no later than 1400 hours on the opening day of the 3rd booking period for the slot to be auctioned or not later than 1100 hours on the closing day of the 3rd period (two days before transit date of auctioned slot), and will end not earlier than 1300 hrs on the closing day of the 3rd period (two days before transit date of auctioned slot). The auction system, at this stage, is not open for Neopanamax vessels (beam over 107ft).
There are a total of 15 booking spaces on a daily basis for SUPERS (vessels 91ft beam or over but under 107ft), 08 for REGULARS (under 91ft) and 07 for NEOPANAMAX (beam over 107 ft). These spaces are assigned to customers in three booking periods:
- Passengers: 547 days to 366 days prior to the requested transit date
- (1st) First Period 365 to 22 days prior to the requested transit date
- (2nd) Second Period 21 to 4 days prior to the requested transit date
- (3rd) Third Period 3 to 2 days prior to the requested transit date
NOTE: No more than one (01) LNG carrier can be booked per day, any direction; no more than one LNG carrier can transit per day booked or not booked in any direction.
Booking slots fees and cancellation costs
Swapping of reserved transit slots between two booked vessels is allowed, subject to the following conditions:
- Both vessels must be booked for transit within 21 days of each other.
- Both vessels must be transiting in the same direction.
- Both vessels must be within the same vessel classification (Neopanamax, super or regular) and be subject to the same transit restrictions and arrival requirements.
- Vessel operators (Customer Codes) must be the same for both vessels.
A vessel already booked may only be substituted by another non-booked vessel, subject to the following conditions:
- Both vessels are registered with the same operator (same Customer Code).
- Both vessels are transiting in the same direction.
- The new vessel must be within the same vessel classification (Neopanamax, super or regular) and be subject to the same or lesser transit restrictions as the original one.
- The written request for substitution shall be received by the ACP Maritime Traffic Control 24 hours or more prior to the required arrival time of the booked vessel.
If the substitution is requested 07 days or more in advance of the booked vessel’s required arrival date, there will be no cancellation charge. If the substitution is requested less than days in advance of the booked vessel’s required arrival date, a cancellation fee will be assessed. The booking fee applied to the substituting vessel will be the higher of the two booking fees applicable to the vessels involved in the substitution, in accordance with the current booking rates.
Arrival time for booked vessels
Required arrival time means the date and time established by ACP as the deadline by which a vessel booked for transit must arrive to transit.
- For Supers (beam of 91ft or over but under 107ft): must arrive at a Canal terminal by 0200 hrs the day of the transit.
- For Regular vessels (beam under 91ft) with restrictions: must arrive at a Canal terminal by 0200 hrs the day of the transit.
- For Regular Vessel without restrictions: must arrive at a Canal terminal by 1400 hrs the day of the transit.
- For Neopanamax vessels (beam over 107ft): must arrive at a Canal terminal by 2300 hrs prior to the booked transit date.
- For LNG vessels: must arrive at a Canal terminal by 0330 hrs the day of the transit.
Arrival time: For purposes of these rules, a vessel booked for transit will be deemed to have arrived at a Canal terminal when a ACP signal station establishes radio contact with vessels and:
- The vessel is visually sighted by the signal station; or
- The vessel is identified on an ACP radar by locations, speed and course at a distance no more than 8 nautical miles.
Just in time (JIT)
This service allows a booked vessel to arrive at a pre-established time requested by the customer and confirmed by the authority.
Depending on vessel characteristics and restrictions, customers may indicate a preferred service time and upon confirmation shall arrive timely at Panama Canal waters in accordance to the indications received by the ACP, and will be serviced with the least amount of waiting time. Customers may request a booking slot with Just-In-Time service in any of the currently prescribed booking periods.
Remember, to apply for this service vessel is to be booked in any of the 3 different periods then an application with selected Preferred Service Time is to be submitted to the ACP for approval.
Arrival time: A vessel booked for transit will be deemed to have arrived at a Canal terminal when a ACP signal station establishes radio contact with vessels and:
- The vessels is visually sighted by the signal station
- The vessels is identified on an ACP radar by locations, speed and course at a distance no more than 8 nautical miles.
At the time the vessels is sighted, specific instructions will be provided by the ACP signal station regarding the vessel’s arrival at the sea buoy and breakwater time (if Southbound), based on the pilot boarding time.
It is imperative that vessels comply with the instruction provided by the Signal Station in order to maintain their booking/reservation status and avoid delays or application of additional fees due to late arrival.
A maximum of four (4) JIT booking slots may be offered per day to Supers (beam => 91 feet), of these, no more than (2) slots may be allocated to vessels transiting in the same direction.
Slots available are assigned “first come first served” basis however subject to mix of vessels booked for that date depending on their particular transit restriction.
Same Direction transit restrictions
During normal conditions: (Canal transit capacity average is 33+ vessels per day in both directions):
- No more than 3 Neopanamax may be booked for transit in the same direction.
- No more than 8 Supers may be booked for transit in Southbound direction.
- No more than 8 Supers may be booked for transit in Northbound direction.
- No more than 5 Regulars may be booked for transit in the same direction.
It should be taken in consideration that under regular conditions there are 15 slots for Supers and 8 for regulars, both directions.
When spaces are not assigned during these periods they automatically are passed to the next booking periods.
For the 3rd period applications are received from 0900 and 0930 hs (3 days before desired transit date). When applications exceed the number of booking slots available, these will be assigned in competition based on the customer weight. However, if after the competition there were slots left same can be taken in a first come first served basis up to 1400 hrs of the following day.
When customers can use the system?
Auctioned booking slots will be available to customers only on dates when all booking slots for either Supers (vessels with beam of 91ft. or over but under 107 ft) or Regulars (vessels with beam under 91 ft), independent of each other, have been allocated.
When starts the auction for a specific date?
The auction process will begin not earlier than 1400 hours on the opening day of the 3rd period for the slot to be auctioned, or not later than 1100 hours on the closing day of the 3rd period (two days before transit date of the auctioned slot), and will end not earlier than 1300 hours on the closing day of the 3rd period (two days before transit date of auctioned slot).
What is the base price for the auctioned slot?
The initial or base price for the auctioned slot is thirty five thousand dollars ($35,000.00) for Supers and fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000.00) for Regulars.
If the auction is initiated due to all booking slots for regulars having been allocated while slots are still available for supers, the initial or base price will be fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000.00). However, if all the booking slots for supers are allocated while the auction is in progress for regulars, the base will be thirty five thousand dollars ($35,000.00) provided that all the slots for supers are allocated prior to 1100 hours on the closing day of the auction.
Details of the process
The auctioned slot will be awarded to the customer who submits the highest bid during the auction period. Vessels awarded the auctioned slot have the same options as other booking slots, such as requesting same-day transit, swaps, and substitutions, except change-in-transit-date.
– If a cancellation of an already awarded auctioned slot occurs before the closing of the 3rd period, the slot will be offered to the next highest bidder.
– If a cancellation occurs during or after the auction process, and the vessel which is to be awarded the cancelled slot is the same as the vessel which made the highest bid, the cancelled slot will be awarded to the vessel at the normal booking rate, and the auctioned slot will be offered to the next highest bidder.
– Vessels awarded an auctioned booking slot which have already secured a normal booking slot during 3rd period competition for the date following the auctioned booking slot date, will be given the option to retain either one of those booking slots.
– Should the vessel elect to retain its normal booking slot, the auctioned booking slot will be offered to the next highest bidder. If, on the other hand the vessel elects to retain the auctioned booking slot, then its normal booking slot will be voided at no additional charge.
There are basically two ways to proceed:
– Placing the starting bid at the beginning of the process or placing the next acceptable bid and amend it by increasing the amount desired every time we get outbid, or
– Placing a maximum bid that will set up a Proxy Bid. In this case the proxy bid will bid on your behalf. This means that if you enter an amount that is higher than any other proxy bid, the system will bid on your behalf only the necessary amount to outbid the other bidders.
In any case, the customer must inform us how much are willing to pay and how will like to proceed. From the minimum and increasing with the minimum next acceptable or bid or placing the very top amount willing to pay.
The auction can be monitored, by phone, by the client with our operator whilst the auction is in process to know when we are out- bided in case will like to submit a different/higher amount before the process conclude.