Last year 35'000 ships (!) with cargo tonnage of some 104 million metric tons passed the locks of Brunsbuettel (North Sea) and Kiel-Holtenau (Baltic Sea) to avert a detour around Danish Skagen (The Skaw).
An average of 280 nautical miles will be saved by using the Kiel-Canal instead of the way around Skaw.
But, essential lack of federal budget investments for necessary refurbishments of the locks and the canal structure itself may initiate a setback for this awesome success story of a environmentally and economically sound transfer for cargo ships among growing markets in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia with UK and Western Europe and even beyond Europe. 2008 was a record year with some 105 million metric tons of cargo on 42'000 vessels for Kiel-Canal, known in German as "Nord-Ostsee-Kanal", and built as "Emperor William Canal" when the Imperial German "Reich" wanted a strategic and operational easy access to the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean for its Navy.
Now idle time, considered as economic and maritime loss, of some 200 million euros in 2012 alone is evaluated as "poison pills" for ships owners and employment connected to it and surely squeezes profit margins.
Thus, any disruption of transit between the two lock areas hurts domestic and international maritime business.
Schleswig-Holstein's state minister of economic affairs, Reinhard Meyer (SPD), has critisized the stagnation of structural extension of this crucial waterway. In order to keep up with the economic challenges, he demands at least a one percent share for the canal from the federal allocation money of the German Federal Ministry of Transportation in any budget year.
The ports in Schleswig-Holstein made a total cargo turnover of some 50 million metric tons in 2012 (a plus of 2 pc compared to 2011), and some 15 million passengers were "processed" and cleared to customs. Some 50'000 workplaces depend on Kiel-Canal, a 60 mile waterway whose transit time is usually 8 hrs +/- 2 hrs.
(edited and summarized from "KN article"
If you wanna make a "flawless" canal transit of 60 miles in 9 minutes, almost at jet's speed:
To get an idea about the ship traffic in Kiel Fjord and Kiel-Canal (between Holtenau Locks and Rendsburg)