After the sharp cuts in the number of booking slots for transits, the Panama Canal now increases the number of ships it accepts each day starting in January, as rainfall and lake levels for November proved to be less adverse than expected, coupled with the positive outcomes from the Canal’s water-saving measures.

As many as 24 vessels will be permitted to pass through the canal daily, up from 22 currently, the canal authority said in a statement Friday.

Additionally, the Panama Canal will allow one booking slot per customer per date, with some exceptions for quotas offered to vessels competing through the reservation system.

Canal specialists are closely monitoring the current water crisis, and the measures announced by the authority will go into effect January 16, 2024, and remain in effect until conditions warrant changes.

Just hours after the Suez Canal and the Red Sea were plunged into crisis with big shipping lines announcing that are shifting their journeys to the Cape of Good Hope route, the Panama Canal replaces the previous announcement that forecasted daily transits at 20 slots for January and 18 slots for February, citing an improved water level situation.

Currently, 22 vessels transit daily, divided into 6 Neopanamax and 16 Panamax. This restriction by the canal authority is in response to the challenges posed by the current state of Gatun Lake, which is experiencing unusually low water levels for this time of the year due to the drought induced by the El Niño phenomenon.

Rainfall in the canal region dropped to a record low in October, prompting authorities to restrict transits for the first time this year.

In anticipation of a potential worsening of the situation in November and December, the decision was made to adjust the number of daily transits to 22 in December, 20 in January, and 18 in February.