Global air cargo tonnages recovered at the end of January and the beginning of February, as expected after the early Lunar New Year this year, but the increase was significantly stronger than in the equivalent period last year, the latest preliminary figures from WorldACD Market Data indicate.
Figures for week 5 (30 January to 5 February) show an increase of +11% in worldwide tonnages compared with the previous week, following a large decrease the week before of -13%, mainly driven by the Lunar New Year that started on 22 January. In the same period last year, tonnages increased by +3%. After falling by around -8% in week 4, the global average rate level recovered slightly (+1%) compared with the previous week, similar to the trend observed last year, but prices remain well below their level prior to Lunar New Year.
Read more: Early Chinese New Year impacts global air cargo demand
Comparing weeks 4 and 5 with the preceding two weeks (2Wo2W), tonnages are down significantly (-8%) below their combined total in weeks 2 and 3, with average worldwide rates also down by -8%, despite a -4% decrease in capacity – based on the more than 400,000 weekly transactions covered by WorldACD’s data.
On a regional level, the effect of the Lunar New Year on air cargo tonnages was most notable on flows outbound from Asia Pacific to Europe (-41%), North America (-40%) and Middle East & South Asia (-38%), respectively, but also on intra-Asia Pacific flows(-23%). Strong increases were recorded from Central & South America to North America (+37%), from Africa to Europe (+29%) and from Europe to North America (+10%).
Read more: Delayed post-holiday recovery in airfreight demand
Comparing the overall global market with this time last year, chargeable weight in weeks 4 and 5 was down -26% compared with the equivalent period last year. Most notably, tonnages ex-Asia Pacific are down by -47%, although this comparison is skewed because last year the Lunar New Year started ten days later, on 1 February. There were also double-digit percent year-on-year drops in tonnages outbound from North America (-25%), Europe (-14%) and Middle East & South Asia (-13%).
Overall capacity has increased by +10% compared with the previous year, with positive developments from all regions except Asia Pacific (-10%) due to the Lunar New Year. The most-notable increases were ex-Europe (+21%) and ex-Africa (+19%).
Worldwide rates are currently -31% below their levels this time last year, at an average of US$2.78 per kilo in week 5, despite the effects of higher fuel surcharges, but they remain significantly above pre-Covid levels.