The Suez Canal recorded its highest annual revenue of $7 billion in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the canal authority said on Monday.
Revenue of the Egyptian waterway, which accounts for about 10 per cent of global maritime trade, increased more than 20 per cent compared to the $5.8bn of the previous fiscal year.
More than 22,000 ships with a combined cargo of 1.32 billion tonnes passed through the canal in the period, which runs from July 1 to June 30, an increase of about 16 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively, from the previous fiscal year.
The records come after a series of transit fee rises, including most recently in May.
Suez Canal Authority's (SCA) Lt Gen Osama Rabie attributed the increase in canal traffic to its position as the “fastest, shortest and safest navigational route”, ensuring the stability of global supply chains amid the Russia-Ukraine war and high shipping costs.
The canal is one of Egypt’s main sources of foreign currency, which has fallen in recent months largely due to the economic fallout of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Foreign currency decreased by $5.5bn between March and May to $35.5bn.
High global food and fuel prices have pushed Egypt to double-digit inflation, affecting overall investment and growth. Ratings agency Fitch Solutions recently cut the country’s fiscal year 2022-2023 growth forecast from 5.5 per cent to 4.4 per cent.
The SCA said it raised transit fees and removed certain discounts due to a rise in global trade and the need to expand the waterway.
From the beginning of May, tankers carrying oil and petroleum products paid a 15 per cent surcharge, up from 5 per cent.
Tolls were doubled for chemical tankers and other liquid bulk tankers to 20 per cent, laden and ballast dry bulk vessels to 10 per cent, and other vessels to 14 per cent.
The SCA had already raised fees by 6 per cent for most ships in February and removed a 15 per cent rebate for liquefied natural gas carriers in March.
Container ships were the most important contributor to total transit tonnages and percentage of revenue in the fiscal year. More than 5,500 container ships with a total net tonnage of 638,000 tonnes added $3.4bn in canal revenue.
Dry bulk vessels contributed $1.3bn, amid an increase in trans-canal coal trade to compensate for a shortage of Russian supplies to Europe, the authority said.
Oil tankers contributed $1.2bn in canal revenue, as demand for crude oil improved in major economies.
A large-scale expansion of the waterway is currently under way, scheduled for completion in 2023 when annual revenue is expected to hit $13.2bn.
The canal was thrust into the international limelight when the massive Ever Given container ship became stuck in March 2021, blocking maritime traffic for six days.
However, the authority has been keen to show its success in allowing similar-sized ships to pass, including the 400-metre Ever Art with a capacity of more than 24,000 containers last week.