Air cargo rates stabilize but volumes remain weak

Global air cargo prices, which have been gradually declining in recent months and weeks, stabilized in the latter part of September and the first few days of October, although volumes show signs of a continued weakening trend - with no clear signs yet of a fourth-quarter peak season - the latest figures from WorldACD Market Data reveal.

In the lead-up to China’s Golden Week holiday in the first week of October, worldwide chargeable weight decreased -2% in week 39 (September 26 - October 2), compared with the previous week, based on the more than 350,000 weekly transactions covered by WorldACD’s data. When comparing the combined total of weeks 38 and 39 with the preceding two weeks (2Wo2W), volumes increased slightly (+1%), while average worldwide rates remained stable in a flat capacity environment.

Across that two-week period, tonnages from all the main global origin regions increased, except for Middle East & South Asia (-1%) and Europe (0%), rising +4% from North America and +3% from Asia Pacific, on a 2Wo2W basis - although volumes from North America and Europe declined in week 39, compared with the previous week.

The positive trend in tonnages from Asia Pacific can also be seen on a lane-by-lane basis, with volumes ex-Asia Pacific rising +5% to North America, +2% to Europe, and +13% to Middle East & South Asia, on a 2Wo2W basis.

Year-on-Year perspective

Comparing the overall global market with this time last year, chargeable weight in weeks 38 and 39 was down -12% compared with the equivalent period in 2021, despite a capacity increase of +6%. Notably, volumes ex-Asia Pacific are -20% below their strong levels this time last year, and North America origin tonnages are -12% below last year.

Capacity from all of the main origin regions, with the exception of Asia Pacific (-7%), is significantly above its levels this time last year, including double-digit percentage rises from Africa (+16%) and Europe (+11%).

Worldwide rates are currently -10% below their level this time last year at an average of US$3.46 per kilo, despite the higher fuel surcharges compared with last year.