Air cargo tonnages rebound post-LNY as sea-air surge continues

Average rate of $2.25 per kilo in week eight was down 18% YoY

Air cargo tonnages rebound post-LNY as sea-air surge continues
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Global air cargo tonnages have rebounded in the final full week of February following their normal Lunar New Year (LNY) dip while key Asia-Europe sea-air hubs have continued to record a strong surge in tonnages, linked to the disruptions to container shipping in the Red Sea, says the latest update from WorldACD Market Data.

As highlighted earlier, Asia-Europe sea-air hubs such as Dubai, Colombo and Bangkok have, in recent weeks, experienced exceptionally high air cargo demand as cargo owners whose supply chains have been disrupted by the attacks on container shipping in the Red Sea seek fast but affordable alternatives to deliver goods to Europe from Asia Pacific. Fresh analysis reveals that Dubai-Europe air cargo traffic in week eight (February 19-25) was more than double (+146 percent) its level this time last year with average tonnages for the last two full weeks (weeks seven and eight) up by 140 percent year on year (YoY).

Colombo-Europe tonnages were up by more than 80 percent YoY in weeks seven and eight. Bangkok-Europe volumes have been up YoY by at least 40 percent during each of the first seven weeks of this year although that eased to +15 percent in week eight, suggesting a possible moderation of demand on that lane.

"It remains to be seen to what extent the recent spikes in demand through these Asia-Europe sea-air hubs have been driven or boosted by LNY, which fell this year on February 10, and whether the continuing strong demand via Dubai and Colombo will be sustained into March. That demand showed no signs of waning in week eight."

These strong volumes helped total worldwide air cargo tonnages to record a nine percent week-on-week (WoW) rise in week eight after dropping WoW by 10 percent in each of the two previous weeks. Average worldwide rates moved up by around two percent after dipping by around eight percent in week seven, the update added.

Two week comparisons
Overall global tonnages in weeks seven and eight combined were down by 11 percent compared with the previous two weeks (2Wo2W) with big drops from origin regions Asia Pacific (-24 percent) and ex-Central & South America (-25 percent).

Year-on-year perspective
Year-on-year (YoY) comparisons show a four percent decrease in total worldwide tonnages compared with last year, driven downwards by a 11 percent drop ex-Asia Pacific and partially offset by a 27 percent increase ex-Middle East & South Asia.

Price-wise, the average rate of $2.25 per kilo in week eight was 18 percent below its level this time last year with rates ex-Europe and ex-North America down by 31 percent and 21 percent, respectively. Average global rates remain significantly above pre-Covid levels (+26 percent compared to February 2019).

Overall worldwide air cargo capacity remains significantly up on last year’s levels (eight percent).

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