Airfreight rates decline as peak fails to materialize

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by Emily Atkins

Air cargo prices and tonnages appeared to stabilize, week over week, in the second full week of October, but the overall trend for the last five weeks is clearly negative.

The latest figures from WorldACD Market Data also reveal no signs yet of a significant fourth-quarter (Q4) peak season.

Looking at week 41 (October 10 – 16) alone, worldwide chargeable weight remained stable compared with the previous week, based on the more than 350,000 weekly transactions covered by WorldACD’s data.

However, comparing weeks 40 and 41 with the preceding two weeks, tonnages declined by eight percent, while average worldwide rates declined by five percent, in an almost flat capacity environment (down one percent).

Across that two-week period, tonnages from all the main global origin regions decreased, with double-digit drops out of Asia Pacific (down 13 percent) and out of the Middle East & South Asia (down 11 percent), but notable declines were also seen outbound from Europe ( down six percent) and outbound from North America (a four percent drop).

On a lane-by-lane basis, tonnages from Asia Pacific to all regions (including intra-Asia Pacific) were substantially down, partially impacted by the Golden Week in the first week of October, with average rates also down from this key export region – including an 11 percent rate decline from Asia Pacific to North America, compared with the previous two weeks.

Significant tonnage decreases were also recorded from Middle East & South Asia to Asia Pacific and to Europe (down 14 percent); from Europe to Asia Pacific ( down 11 percent) and Central & South America (down 10 percent); and from North America to Europe (and eight percent drop), based on the previous two weeks.

Double-digit drops from last year

Comparing the overall global market with this time last year, chargeable weight in weeks 40 and 41 was down 16 percent compared with the equivalent period in 2021, despite a capacity increase of six percent. Notably, volumes from Asia Pacific are 26 percent below their strong levels this time last year, and Middle East & South Asia origin tonnages are 24 percent below last year.

Capacity from all of the main origin regions, with the exception of Asia Pacific (down 10 percent) and Central & South America (down three percent), is significantly above its levels this time last year, including double-digit percentage rises from Europe (up 17 percent), Africa (up 15 percent) and North America (up 10 percent).

Worldwide rates are currently 17 percent below their level this time last year at an average of US$3.27 per kilo.