Panama canal sees 21% drop in crossings amid pandemic

PANAMA CITY (AP) — The Panama Canal reported a 21% drop in the number of ships crossing the waterway in May amid the coronavirus pandemic, compared to projections for traffic.

Just 937 ships used the canal last month, while there were 260 cancellations of crossings, canal administrator Ricaurte Vásquez said Wednesday.

He said 119 of the cancellations involved giant LNG and LPG tankers that were to have carried liquified gas, mostly from the United States to Asia. Crossings by cruise ships and car carriers also declined.

The coronavirus pandemic has hurt international trade and economic activity around the globe. Vásquez said recovery in traffic might be slow, but some analysts predicted a more rapid rebound.

“It will be able to recover rapidly because the world’s reactivation depends on the reactivation of trade,” said analyst José Isabel Blandón Sr. “And in the reactivation of trade, the United States needs Panama, China and South America need Panama, and Europe, too.”