Global air cargo tonnages and average rates continue stable trend


Air cargo tonnages from Asia Pacific recovered strongly in the beginning of February from their annual Lunar New Year holiday downturn, and the following three weeks have shown a worldwide market stabilisation, after months of demand and rate declines, the latest preliminary figures from WorldACD Market Data indicate.

Figures for week 8 (20 to 26 February) show a small decrease (-2%) in worldwide tonnages compared with the previous week. On the pricing side, global average rates increased slightly (+1%) compared with the previous week, although there were some strong variations in the underlying regional trends, particularly related to Asia Pacific and Africa.

Comparing weeks 7 and 8 with the preceding two weeks (2Wo2W), tonnages are slightly down (-1%) below their combined total in weeks 5 and 6, accompanied by a +2% increase in capacity, whereas average worldwide rates remained stable – based on the more than 400,000 weekly transactions covered by WorldACD’s data.

Read more: Strong demand recovery after Lunar New Year

At a regional level, on a 2Wo2W basis, the post-Lunar New Year recovery in air cargo tonnages was still very notable on ex-Asia Pacific flows to Middle East & South Asia (+22%), Europe (+16%), and North America (+10%), respectively. The most-notable decreases were recorded from Central & South America to North America (-20%) and from Africa to Europe (-11%), linked to the annual spike in flower shipments ahead of Valentine’s Day on 14 February.

Despite volumes rebounding in recent weeks, on the pricing side the average rates for flows originating in Asia Pacific have continued to show a negative trend, particularly on intra-Asia Pacific (-5%) and to Middle East & South Asia (-5%).

Year-on-Year perspective

Comparing the overall global market with this time last year, chargeable weight in weeks 7 and 8 was down -21% compared with the equivalent period last year. Most notably, tonnages ex-Asia Pacific are down by -39%, although this comparison is skewed because Lunar New Year started ten days later last year, on 1 February compared with 22 January this year. There were also double-digit percent year-on-year drops in tonnages outbound from North America (-20%), Middle East & South Asia (-13%) and Europe  (-11%). Tonnages outbound Africa were on the rise compared with the previous year (+7%).

Read more: Early Chinese New Year impacts global air cargo demand

Overall capacity has jumped by +17% compared with the previous year, with positive developments from all regions including Asia Pacific (+25%) related to post-Lunar New Year recovery. Other most-notable increases were ex-Europe (+21%), ex-Middle East & South Asia (+20%), ex-Africa (+18%) and ex-North America (+12%).

Worldwide rates are currently -27% below their levels this time last year, at an average of US$2.81 per kilo in week 8, despite the effects of higher fuel surcharges, but they remain significantly above pre-Covid levels.