Air freight volumes rebound after New Year's slowdown
logistics | SupplyChain | Air Transport
Par Ibrahima DIALLO
21 January 2024 / 12:02

Global airfreight tonnages rebounded in the second week of 2024 after 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, demand to Europe from Asia-Pacific and the Middle East and South Asia saw a double-digit increase in the last two weeks, which may reflect a modal shift to air transport due to shipping disruptions in the Red Sea.

Preliminary figures for week 2 (January 8-14) show that global airfreight tonnages rose by +24% on the previous week, after falling by around -30% in the second half of last month and by around -3% in week 1, while average global rates fell slightly again in week 2 after dropping by around -2% in the first week of 2024.

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

High-season air freight volumes up 3% on last year

In recent days, there have been anecdotal reports of cargo owners transferring part of their cargo from sea to air due to longer ocean voyages caused by the disruptions in the Red Sea.

Although it is not yet known to what extent this has contributed to air freight demand, these high tonnage figures to Europe from Asia-Pacific and the Middle East and South Asia probably reflect some contribution from the modal shift on these routes from sea to air and sea to air.

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

Year-on-year outlook

Year-on-year, demand remains slightly up (+2%) worldwide. Tonnages for the first two weeks of this year are up year-on-year, excluding the Middle East and South Asia (+17%), and excluding Africa (+9%).

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





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