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ACP Announces Fiscal Year 2005 First Quarter Metrics

Date: 16-FEB-2005

TRANSIT TIME DROPS; TOTAL TRANSITS INCREASE; RECORD TONNAGE IN NOVEMBER

PANAMA CITY, Panama, February 16, 2005 - The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced today first quarter (Q1) operational metrics for fiscal year 2005. Canal Waters Time (CWT), the average time it takes a vessel to transit the Canal including waiting time for passage, decreased this quarter although transits increased, particularly those of Panamax-sized vessels. In addition, total tonnage transiting the Canal increased this quarter. These metrics are based on operations from October through December of 2004, the first quarter of the ACP's 2005 fiscal year.

"We're moving more, larger ships of greater tonnage through the Canal faster. As the Canal nears full capacity, we must run it as efficiently as possible. I salute all ACP employees for making this quarter's numbers so impressive," said Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta.

Because of reduced CWT, Canal customers are able to bring their goods to market faster. Overall CWT decreased 14.7 percent this quarter - to 24.5 hours from 28.7 hours. This decrease in CWT is partially due to the use of innovative measures while rehabilitation of the locomotive tow track was being performed, helping to reduce delays in November and December. Tow track replacement typically requires closing a lane for a sustained period of time. This time, however, the ACP created "special lockages," ships passing certain portions of the locks without the aid of locomotives, to maintain lock capacity and ensure that no significant backlog of vessels occurred. In December, 134 vessels were able to transit the East lane of Gatun locks during the rehabilitation of the locomotive tow track, instead of possibly waiting several days to transit.

This quarter, Canal transits increased 1.8 percent - to 3,363 from 3,302. Moreover, transits of Panamax-sized vessels, the largest size vessel that can pass through the Canal, increased 6.2 percent - to 1,444 from 1,360.

Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) tonnage increased 5.1 percent - to 70,174,983 PC/UMS tons from 66,786,601 PC/UMS tons. Tonnage was particularly heavy during October and November when 46,956,399 PC/UMS tons moved through the waterway - a 7.1 percent increase compared to last year. In November, a daily average tonnage record was set with 778,176 PC/UMS tons per day. This broke the previous record of April 2004 when an average of 774,014 PC/UMS tons transited daily.

Two official accidents occurred during Q1 FY2005; one official accident occurred during Q1 FY2004. An official accident is one in which a formal investigation is requested and conducted.

About the Panama Canal Authority
The Panama Canal Authority is the autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating and maintaining the Panama Canal.  The operation of the Panama Canal Authority is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors.  For more information, please refer to the Panama Canal Authority's Web site: www.pancanal.com.

The Authority's responsibility to the Panamanian people is paramount. The Canal belongs to the people and benefits from the Canal should accrue to as many Panamanians as possible.  The Authority will plan its future so that it will continually contribute to the economic development and welfare of the citizens of Panama. For nearly 90 years, the Panama Canal has served as the global gateway - a pathway for the shipment of major world commodities. Since the end of 1999, the ACP assumed the responsibility for the management, operation and modernization of the Canal as well as the protection and conservation of its watershed.  


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