Air cargo demand weak as year closes out

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

Global air cargo tonnages have dropped further in the final weeks and days of what would normally be peak season, the latest preliminary figures from WorldACD Market Data indicate, led by a significant decline in Asia-Europe volumes.

Figures for week 50 (12 to 18 December) are consistent with the progressive slide in air cargo demand throughout the second half of this year. They show an overall drop of-3% in worldwide flown tonnages compared with the previous week, while average prices also declined slightly. The decrease in overall chargeable weight compared to the previous week can be seen for each origin region, except for Africa.

Average prices had been stable in recent weeks but dipped further in week 50 from all the main origin regions, except for Europe outbound. The slight overall decline on the previous week follows a similar trend to this time last year, although last year the rate had been upwards trending while this year it had been flat.

Comparing weeks 49 and 50 with the preceding two weeks (2Wo2W), tonnages decreased -2% below their combined total in weeks 47 and 48, while average worldwide rates declined -1%, at a +1% increase in capacity – based on the more than 350,000 weekly transactions covered by WorldACD’s data.

Across that two-week period, outbound tonnages were down significantly from Europe to all regions (-15% to Africa, -14% to Central & South America, -8% to Middle East & South Asia, -5% to North America and -4% to Asia Pacific), on a 2Wo2W basis. Furthermore, notable decreases were recorded on Asia Pacific to Europe (-8%), North America to Asia Pacific (-4%) and Asia Pacific to Middle East & South Asia (-4%). Meanwhile, the following regional lanes showed strong increases: North America to Europe (+12%), Africa to Europe (+12%), and between North America and Central & South America (southbound +6%, northbound +5%).

Year-on-Year perspective

Comparing the overall global market with this time last year, chargeable weight in weeks 49 and 50 was down -19% compared with the equivalent period in 2021, with capacity slightly lower (-1%).

Notably, tonnages ex-Asia Pacific are -25% below their strong levels this time last year, and ex-North America tonnages are down by -25%. But there were also double-digit percent year-on-year drops on tonnages outbound from Middle East & South Asia (-19%), Europe (-12%) and Africa (-10%).

Capacity from Asia Pacific (-9%) and Central & South America (-8%) remains below its levels this time last year, whereas from Africa (+16%), Middle East & South Asia (+3%), and North America (+2%), capacity has rebounded above its levels this time last year.

Worldwide rates are currently -27% below their unusually elevated levels this time last year at an average of US$3.24 per kilo, despite the effects of higher fuel surcharges, but they remain significantly above pre-Covid levels.