Air cargo tonnages down 5% in 2023: WorldACD

Worldwide average rates are 18% below their levels this time last year at an average of $2.49/kg

Air cargo tonnages down 5% in 2023: WorldACD
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Global air cargo is yet to see any significant uplift from the recent disruptions to container shipping in the Red Sea, according to the latest figures from WorldACD Market Data.

"There is likely to be some conversion of sea freight to air freight in the coming weeks if the disruptions continue," the update added.

Preliminary figures for the final week of 2023 indicate that tonnages in December were five percent above their level in December 2022, with the final two weeks of the year also showing a five percent increase compared with last year, in line with the year-on-year (YoY) improvement recorded across last month.

"Those figures confirm what WorldACD predicted last week that the fourth quarter (Q4) was the only quarter in 2023 showing positive growth (three percent) in tonnages compared to last year, following significant but gradually diminishing YoY declines in the first three quarters (Q1: -11 percent; Q2: -8 percent; Q3: -3 percent). Whereas the first half of 2023 saw tonnages decline nine percent YoY, the second half was characterised by an improving YoY performance for each consecutive month, closing with flat H2 compared to last year. This means that global tonnages for the full year 2023 ended up five percent lower than in 2022."

Weekly analysis
Preliminary figures for week 52 (December 25-31) show the typical end-of-year drop in global air cargo tonnages with demand down by 25 percent compared with the previous week while average worldwide rates remained stable – a slight improvement compared with the previous year, which showed a decline in average rates of two percent in the equivalent week.

Comparing weeks 51 and 52 this year with the preceding two weeks (2Wo2W), overall tonnages decreased 17 percent, and overall global average rates were down seven percent with capacity down three percent, the update added.

"While volumes went down significantly across all regions, the global decrease in average rates has mainly been driven by origin region Asia Pacific (-11 percent, 2Wo2W), which had recently experienced a surge in rates, especially ex-China."

On a regional level, almost all flows showed a double-digit percentage drop in tonnages with only ex-Asia Pacific to Middle East & South Asia recording an increase of three percent.

Year-on-year perspective
Compared to this time last year, total global tonnages in weeks 51 and 52 were up five percent YoY – driven by a 17 percent YoY increase ex-Asia Pacific and a 14 percent rise, ex-Middle East & South Asia.

Overall available capacity has increased eight percent compared to last year, with capacity ex-Asia Pacific up 19 percent.

Worldwide average rates are currently 18 percent below their levels this time last year at an average of $2.49 per kilo in week 52, although they remain significantly above pre-Covid levels (up 39 percent compared to December 2019).

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