Expansion is due to reduce transit times southbound from 18 hours to 11 hours. Waiting times should also plummet to 3 hours as opposed to the common 8-11 hours of previous years. However, in the build up to this expansion, the work being done is disrupting the flow of traffic on the Canal therefore causing longer delays than usual.
The dredging of the canal is expected to be complete by mid-July, but until then the authority is only allowing one convoy inside the canal at any one point. The SCA (Suez Canal Authority) are currently only operating one convoy from the north, and one from the south per day. The time of entering the Canal has also been very much varied in recent weeks. This is causing ships to miss out on the single daily convoy, leaving them with a large waiting time until the next.
While these delays are a huge nuisance for shipping lines, the light at the end of the tunnel is nearing…. The canal authority expects that once the expansion is complete they will be able to facilitate direct unstopped transit for 45 ships in both directions per day. It is thought that by 2023 the daily average transiting of vessels will be as high as 97 per day!
With reduced transit times, fuel savings and a greater capacity of ships allowed inside the canal at once… this can only mean positive things for the shipping lines and therefore importers in the UK.