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Rates bounce back to +50% above pre-Covid levels

Rates bounce back to +50% above pre-Covid levels

Preliminary figures for week 50 (11 to 17 December) indicate that global tonnages and average worldwide rates have been stable compared with the previous week, after recovering more quickly than last year from the seasonal post-Thanksgiving dip last month, based on the more than 400,000 weekly transactions covered by WorldACD’s dataComparing weeks 49 and 50 this year with the preceding two weeks (2Wo2W), overall tonnages increased +1%, and overall global average rates continued to rise, by +2%, with capacity up +1%. The figures indicate that demand and pricing are levelling off, as they usually do in the second half of December, after rallying in the last three months. Although the main driver for the recent increases has been a surge in tonnages and rates ex-Asia Pacific, especially China, volumes ex-Asia Pacific have now flattened, although there have still been some modest rises in average rates ex-Asia Pacific, especially to North America (+4%), on a 2Wo2W basis.  Tonnages to and from North America, and in some cases prices, have continued to recover in the last few weeks after dropping significantly for much of this year, especially outbound. Notable tonnage increases in the last two weeks from North America include to Europe (+12%), to Asia Pacific (+13%), and to Central & South America (+11%). Other significant shifts include +9% growth ex-Central & South America to Europe, +5% increase ex-Middle East & South Asia to Asia Pacific, and a drop of -12% from Europe to Africa, on a 2Wo2W basis. On the pricing side, the biggest movements in the last two weeks have been on the transatlantic, where rates have risen +10% westbound and +18% eastbound. Elsewhere, average rates from Europe to Central & South America have risen sharply (+10%), while the biggest fall has been ex-Middle East & South Asia to Europe (-7%), on a 2Wo2W basis.

READ: Peak-season air cargo tonnages up 3% on last year

Year-on-Year perspective

Taking a year-on-year perspective (YoY), total global tonnages in weeks 49 and 50 have continued to strengthen against their levels this time last year, now standing +5% higher than in the equivalent period 12 months ago – driven by a +16% YoY increase ex-Asia Pacific and a +10% rise ex-Middle East & South Asia, with demand ex-Central & South America also ahead of last year (+4%). There remain significant decreases in tonnages ex-North America (-7%) and ex-Europe (-5%), YoY, although these are far less severe than the deficits reported in previous weeks, most notably ex-North America.  Worldwide average rates are currently -16% below their levels this time last year, at an average of US$2.69 per kilo in week 50, although they remain significantly above pre-Covid levels (+50% compared to December 2019).Meanwhile, overall available capacity has increased by +11% compared with last year, with capacity ex-Asia Pacific up by a noteworthy +25%. Other regions also show significant YoY capacity increases, led by ex-Central & South America (+10%), with capacity up +9% ex-North America, ex-Africa, and ex-Europe, and with capacity ex-Middle East & South Asia seeing a +8% bounce-back, YoY.

Picture of Edward Hardy

Edward Hardy

Having become a journalist after university, Edward Hardy has been a reporter and editor at some of the world's leading publications and news sites. In 2022, he became Air Cargo Week's Editor. Got news to share? Contact me on


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