‘November volumes in January’ as air cargo load factors produce a positive start to 2021

posted on 3rd February 2021 by Eddie Saunders
'November volumes in January' as air cargo load factors produce a positive start to 2021

Airfreight rates showed a corresponding peak in the last week of the month after a sizeable fall at the start of January, said TAC Index. It highlights:

  • HKG-EUR airfreight rates dropped by -14% from Jan 4-18 before picking up by 12% to the month end (Feb 1)
  • HKG-DFW declined -21% from Jan 4-18 but rose again by 17% by the end of the month
  • PVG-NOA (North America) dropped from Jan 4-18 by -29 % but by Feb 1 had recovered again by 19%

Robert Frei, Business Development Director at TAC Index, commented: “The current market emphasises the difference in monthly and weekly indices. On some sectors ex Hong Kong and China, if we looked only at the monthly change in airfreight rates, we would see a near -25% drop in January over December. If we were not aware of the strong increase in the last week of January, we could possibly assume that, despite the upcoming Chinese New Year, there is a continuing negative trend, but market consensus has it that rate negotiations between shippers, forwarders and carriers are much more short term again (weekly or even per shipment) and, as a result, the number of spot rates has increased drastically compared to previous years. In our numbers we see big spreads.”

The latest TAC Index data shows all rates into North America increased in the last week of January. The only exception was ex-LHR, which suffered a -7% fall. On all other lanes, airfreight rates in the last week recorded increases from +3% on HKG-NOA and +9% from FRA-NOA to +20% on the PVG-NOA lane, back to the same level last seen in September 2020. 

Post Brexit airfreight rates also showed the high demand for capacity to the UK, says TAC Index, based on its look into rates from Asia to Europe compared to Asia to London. In the last week of January, this showed:

  • HKG-LHR: +28% and equal to May 2020 levels
  • HKG-EUR: +6%
  • PVG-LHR: +19%, matching October 2020 levels
  • PVG-EUR: +7%