Global air cargo tonnages continue rally: WorldACD

Average worldwide rates of $2.35 per kilo in week 3 (January 15-21) are 22% below their levels this time last year

Global air cargo tonnages continue rally: WorldACD
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Global air cargo tonnages increased five percent for week 3 (January 15-21) compared with the previous week, according to data from WorldACD.

The increase follows a 25 percent increase in week 2, taking tonnages back up close to their levels in the third week of December and to around 90 percent of their peak levels in October and November, the update added.

"Average global prices bounced back slightly (two percent) towards their levels at the start of this year."

Worldwide air cargo demand in January so far remains significantly up compared with this time last year with tonnages from all the main global regions ahead of last year’s figures with the exception of ex-North America traffic.

"Freight forwarders continue to report anecdotally that certain cargo owners are switching some Asia-Europe cargo from sea to air or to sea-air because of longer ocean voyages caused by the disruptions in the Red Sea. From a data perspective, it is difficult to separate this traffic from the normal seasonal mid-January uplift following the New Year slowdown, and from the effects of Lunar New Year (LNY) with LNY in 2024 coming later (February 10) than last year (January 22).

"Reflecting the serious disruptions to international container shipping, ocean freight spot rates from Asia to Europe are now around three times their level prior to the Red Sea disruptions, although air cargo rates remain relatively stable globally, and ex-Asia Pacific, compared with before the Red Sea crisis – although ex-Asia Pacific air cargo rates had already risen in the final quarter of last year due to seasonal and product-related demand factors.

Some forwarders note that the window for booking air freight ahead of Lunar New Year (February 10) is closing, the update added. "The next two to three weeks could be challenging with the expectation of bunched container ships arriving en masse at the main European ports, potentially triggering port delays, driver shortages and cargo build-ups at warehouses, driving further traffic towards air cargo."

Weekly analysis
Data reveals week-on-week (WoW) increases in tonnages to Europe ex-China (four percent) and ex-Hong Kong (nine percent). "Tonnages ex-Gulf Area to Europe were down 17 percent (WoW) while rates went up 17 percent."

Total combined tonnages for weeks 2 and 3 this year were up 26 percent globally compared with the preceding two weeks (2Wo2W), thanks largely, to the big post-New Year tonnage bounce-back in week two, the update added.

Outbound tonnages were up significantly from all the main global regions on a 2Wo2W basis including 44 percent increase ex-Europe followed by (+29 percent) ex-Central & South America, (+27 percent) ex-North America and (+22 percent) ex-Asia Pacific.

Year-on-year perspective
Overall global demand in weeks 2 and 3, combined, is up six percent year-on-year despite the same period last year benefiting from the early Lunar New Year and the normal surge in air cargo traffic ahead of LNY factory closures in China.

"The most striking YoY increase is tonnages ex-Middle East (21 percent) & South Asia (12 percent), which may reflect some conversion of ocean freight to air and sea-air cargo due to the Red Sea disruptions. Traffic ex-Africa was also up strongly (14 percent) YoY."

On the pricing side, average worldwide rates of $2.35 per kilo in week 3 are 22 percent below their elevated levels this time last year although they remain significantly above pre-Covid levels (up 32 percent compared to January 2019), the update added.

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