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Revenue set to dry up for Suez Canal as transits fall

SUEZ Canal revenue is projected to decline by around 14% to about $4.7bn this year compared with $5.4bn in 2008, according to local reports quoting a Suez Canal Authority official. But figures from Lloyd’s Marine Intelligence Unit reveal that the number of transits this year has clocked up an even sharper fall, meaning that the prognosis appears to be on the optimistic side. Transits of commercial vessels from January to May 2009 — that is, excluding warships, yachts and fishing vessels — totalled 6,820. That compares with 8,502 in the equivalent period last year, a reduction just a shade under 25%. “It’s too early to run figures for June, but the trend at the moment looks as though they will also be lower than last year,” said Lloyd’s MIU consultant Claire Wright. Factors involved are likely to include the general decline in world trade and moves by some operators to reroute round the Cape of Good Hope, both to save on canal dues and to avoid the piracy-prone Gulf of
Aden. Revenue from the canal, a major hard currency earner for Egypt, plunged 22.7% in April this year compared with the corresponding period last year, according to the most recent official statistics available in English. However, at $448.9m, monthly revenue for the period was up 5.8% in March. The figures state that 1,482 vessels used the canal in April, down 13.4% from 1,712 vessels in April last year, but nevertheless a 3% gain on the 1,439 tally seen in March.

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