Tonnages and rates stabilise after recovery from Golden Week

Singapore freight forwarders – Star Concord
27-Oct-2023

Global air cargo tonnages and rates appear to have stabilised after recovering from China’s National Day Golden Week in early October, according to the latest weekly figures from WorldACD Market Data, although there are no clear signs yet of any significant fourth-quarter (Q4) peak season – despite anecdotal reports from some freight forwarders of a slight seasonal tightening of the market.

Weekly analysis

Preliminary figures for week 42 (16 to 22 October) show a +1% increase in tonnages and in global average rates, compared with the previous week, based on the more than 400,000 weekly transactions covered by WorldACD’s data. That follows a +4% week-on-week (WoW) recovery the previous week following a -6% drop during the first full week of October, corresponding with China’s Golden Week holiday break.Comparing weeks 41 and 42 this year with the preceding two weeks (2Wo2W), overall tonnages, worldwide rates and also capacity increased by +1% versus their combined total in weeks 39 and 40.At a regional level, decreases in tonnages (2Wo2W) were recorded most strongly on flows outbound from Europe to, respectively, Africa (-8%), Central & South America (-8%), and Middle East & South Asia (-7%). Elsewhere, tonnages were down ex-Asia Pacific to Middle East & South Asia, and ex-Middle East & South Asia to Europe (-5%). The biggest percentage increases were found on flows to Asia Pacific, from Europe (+11%) and Middle East & South Asia (+8%), while intra-Asia Pacific tonnages also rose strongly (+11%) on a 2Wo2W basis. Other notable increases were recorded from Africa to Europe (+7%) and ex-Central & South America to Europe (+5%), while there were modest tonnage and rate increases (+2%) on the big markets ex-Asia Pacific to both North America and Europe. Elsewhere on the pricing side, regional rates showed an increase, on a 2Wo2W basis, on flows ex-North America to Asia Pacific (+7%), and ex-Europe to North America (+5%) and Africa (+4%). Decreases were recorded ex-Middle East & South Asia to Asia Pacific (-4%), ex-Africa to Europe (-4%), and ex-North America to Europe (-3%).

Year-on-Year perspective

Comparing the overall global market with this time last year, chargeable weight in weeks 41 and 42 was down just -1% compared with the equivalent period last year – one of the smallest year-on-year (YoY) declines recorded in 2023 – with the most-notable changes on an origin region level being a +8% rise ex-Middle East & South Asia and a +7% increase ex-Asia Pacific. Tonnages were also up ex-Central & South America (+7%) and ex-Africa (+2%). But, similar to previous reports, there were significant decreases in tonnages ex-North America (-12%) and ex-Europe (-11%). Overall capacity has increased by +12% compared with last year, as passenger air services continue to return to the market, with capacity ex-Asia Pacific up by a noteworthy +34%. Other significant YoY capacity increases can be observed ex-Middle East & South Asia (+13%), ex-Europe (+9%) , ex-North America (+10%) and ex-Africa (+10%), while a drop was recorded ex-Central & South America (-4%).Worldwide average rates are currently -28% below their levels this time last year, at an average of US$2.38 per kilo in week 42, although they remain significantly above pre-Covid levels (+33% compared to October 2019).

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Author: Edward Hardy