Air Cargo Volumes Bounce Back After New Year Slowdown

Air Cargo Volumes Bounce Back After New Year Slowdown

Cargo tonnages clock 24% weekly increase

Global air cargo tonnages have bounced back in the second week of 2024 following their typical slowdown in the second half of December and the first week of January, according to the latest figures from WorldACD Market Data.

Last year saw double-digit percentage increases in demand to Europe from Asia Pacific and from Middle East & South Asia in the last two weeks that may reflect some modal shift to air due to disruptions to shipping in the Red Sea.

Preliminary figures for week 2 (8 to 14 January) indicate that global air cargo tonnages rose +24% compared with the previous week, after falling by around -30% in the second half of last month and by around -3% in week 1, while average worldwide rates dropped again slightly in week 2 after falling by around -2% in the first week of 2024. 

These patterns are broadly similar to those of previous years, although that +24% tonnage rebound in week 2 was stronger than in the equivalent week last year (+19%).

Peak Season Air Cargo Tonnages Up 3% on Last Year

There have been anecdotal reports in recent days of cargo owners switching some cargo from sea to air because of longer ocean voyages caused by the disruptions in the Red Sea.

Although it’s unclear yet to what extent this has contributed to air cargo demand, those elevated tonnage figures to Europe from Asia Pacific and from Middle East & South Asia likely reflect some contribution from modal shift on these lanes from sea to air and to sea-air. 

In contrast to the higher tonnages ex-Asia Pacific to Europe, demand ex-Asia Pacific to other markets declined, on a 2Wo2W basis, including a -18% drop to Middle East & South Asia and a -9% fall to North America, while intra-Asia Pacific tonnages also dropped sharply (-12%). 

Year-on-year perspective

Year on year (YoY), demand remains up slightly (+2%) globally.

Tonnages for the first two weeks of this year are up, YoY, ex-Middle East & South Asia (+17%), ex-Africa (+9%).

On the pricing side, worldwide average rates are currently -24% below their levels this time last year, at an average of US$2.34 per kilo in week 2, although they remain significantly above pre-Covid levels (+31% compared to January 2019).

Read More: Air Cargo Enters 2024 with Cautious Optimism

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