Weak air cargo demand continues into November

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There are still no signs of any fourth-quarter (Q4) seasonal uplift in air cargo demand or pricing, with the downward trend of the last several months continuing into the second week of November – when peak season is usually in full flow.

Following a steep decline in the week to 6 November (week 44), reported by WorldACD last week, the latest preliminary figures from WorldACD Market Data show that weakening trend continue in this week’s report – although the drop was less steep on a week-over-week basis.

Figures for week 45 (7 to 13 November) show a further -1% drop in worldwide flown tonnages from the previous week, and a stable average price. But comparing weeks 44 and 45 with the preceding two weeks (2Wo2W), tonnages were -7% below their level in weeks 42 and 43, while average worldwide rates decreased by -1%, in a decreasing capacity environment (-1%) – based on the more than 350,000 weekly transactions covered by WorldACD’s data.

Read more: Rates and tonnages stabilise in global negative trend

Across that two-week period, outbound tonnages dropped from all the main regions, most notably ex-Europe (-12%), ex-Asia Pacific (-5%) and ex-North America (-5%). On a lane-by-lane basis, strong decreases were recorded between Europe and North America (-12% westbound and -10% eastbound) and between Europe and Asia Pacific(-7% westbound and -14% eastbound).

There were also double-digit percentage drops in tonnages from Europe to Central & South America (-15%) and to Africa (-11%), while intra-Asia Pacific volumes fell by-7%. Chargeable weight growth outbound from Middle East & South Asia to Asia Pacific was the only significant positive exception (+6%), on a 2Wo2W basis.

Year-on-Year perspective

Comparing the overall global market with this time last year, chargeable weight in weeks 44 and 45 was down -18% compared with the equivalent period in 2021, despite a capacity increase of +2%. Notably, tonnages ex-Asia Pacific are -25% below their strong levels this time last year, and Middle East & South Asia origin tonnages are -23% below last year. But there were also double-digit percentage year-on-year drops outbound from both North America (-18%) and Europe (-13%), despite higher capacity.

Read more: Air cargo rates and volumes decline further

Capacity from all the main origin regions, with the exception of Asia Pacific (-8%) and Central & South America (-6%), is (significantly) above its levels this time last year: North America +9%, Middle East & South Asia +6%, Europe +2% and a double-digit percentage rise from Africa (+11%).

Worldwide rates are currently -22% below their levels this time last year at an average of US$3.34 per kilo, despite the effects of higher fuel surcharges, but they remain significantly above pre-Covid levels.