Global Air Cargo Rates Rise Throughout March

Global Air Cargo Rates Rise Throughout March

Prices within -7% of their elevated levels this time last year

Global air cargo rates continued to rise throughout March, thanks to strong demand and rising rates from Asia and Middle East origins, taking average prices to within -7% of their elevated levels this time last year and recovering to last year’s winter peak season level, according to the latest weekly figures from WorldACD Market Data. 

Average rates rose, week on week (WoW), by around +2% in week 13 (25-31 March) to $2.48 per kilo.

The narrowing of the rates gap compared with last year partly reflects high comparison rates in January 2023 of $2.92 per kilo, which dropped to US$2.70 in February and US$2.68 in March 2023.

Rates continued to gradually slide from the extreme highs of early 2022. But it also reflects a recovery in average rates since the start of the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2023.

And despite the usual seasonal drop at the start of this year, and after Lunar New Year, average rates have recovered to close to their peak levels in Q4 last year. 

The current average worldwide rates of US$2.48 per kilo are almost exactly equivalent to their average level in Q4 – US$2.47 per kilo – which, coincidentally, was also their average level for the whole of 2023. And it is also significantly above pre-Covid levels (+38% compared to March 2019).

Examining what’s behind this consistent recovery in prices in March reveals that it is chiefly driven by increases in rates for air cargo from Asia Pacific and Middle East & South Asia (MESA) origin points.

This is thanks to strong demand from cross-border e-commerce and because of the ongoing disruptions to container shipping in the Red Sea.

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