Some signs of a slow rebound after several weeks of stabilisation – still partly driven by the annual post-Lunar New Year holiday recovery ex-Asia, but against a backdrop of some slightly more-positive recent global economic indicators, WorldACD highlights

By Will Waters

Global air cargo tonnages show signs of rebounding slowly after several weeks of stabilisation – still partly driven by the annual post-Lunar New Year holiday recovery ex-Asia, but against a backdrop of some slightly more-positive recent global economic indicators. However, global average rates seem to be continuing the gradual softening trend observed in previous months, possibly affected by growing capacity, the latest preliminary figures from WorldACD Market Data indicate.

Figures for week 9 (27 February to 5 March) show a small increase (+1%) in worldwide tonnages compared with the previous week, which had also seen a modest (+2%) tonnage rise. On the pricing side, global average rates decreased (-2%) compared with the previous week.

Comparing weeks 8 and 9 with the preceding two weeks (2Wo2W), tonnages are up by 2% above their combined total in weeks 6 and 7, accompanied by a 2% increase in capacity, whereas average worldwide rates slightly declined by 1% – based on the more than 400,000 weekly transactions covered by WorldACD’s data.

At a regional level, on a 2Wo2W basis, the post-Lunar New Year recovery in air cargo tonnages was still notable on ex-Asia Pacific flows to North America (+18%), Middle East & South Asia (+14%), and Europe (+13%), respectively. The most-notable decreases were recorded ex-Central & South America (-8%) and ex-Africa (-6%), linked to the annual spike in flower shipments ahead of Valentine’s Day on 14 February, with the flower exports from these two regions combined down by 8% (2Wo2W), WorldACD said.

Despite volumes rebounding in recent weeks, on the pricing side the average rates have continued to show a negative trend from all regions except Middle East & South Asia, particularly ex-Europe (-3%) and ex-North America (-3%).

Year-on-year perspective

Comparing the overall global market with this time last year, chargeable weight in weeks 8 and 9 was down -18% compared with the equivalent period last year. Most notably, tonnages ex-Asia Pacific are down by -35%, although this comparison is skewed because Lunar New Year started ten days later last year, on 1 February compared with 22 January this year, WorldACD noted. There were also double-digit percent year-on-year drops in tonnages outbound from North America (-18%) and Middle East & South Asia (-10%). But there are some exceptions, regionally, with tonnages outbound from Africa particularly on the rise compared with the previous year (+10%).

Overall capacity has jumped by +15% compared with the previous year, with significant positive developments from all regions. Most-notable increases were ex-Africa (+23%), ex-Europe (+21%) and ex-Middle East & South Asia (+17%).

Worldwide rates are currently -28% below their levels this time last year, at an average of US$2.73 per kilo in week 9, despite the effects of higher fuel surcharges, but they remain significantly above pre-Covid levels, WorldACD highlighted.

Source: will waters