WorldACD Air cargo trends for the past 5 weeks (wk 1): No upswing in demand at the start of 2023

posted on 13th January 2023 by Eddie Saunders
WorldACD Air cargo trends for the past 5 weeks (wk 1): No upswing in demand at the start of 2023

Global air cargo tonnages have shown no sign yet of a post-holiday season recovery, whereas last year there was already an upswing by the end of the first week, the latest preliminary figures from WorldACD Market Data indicate, consistent with a continued softening of market conditions.

Figures for week 1 (2 to 8 January) show worldwide tonnages to be stable compared with the previous week, while last year in the same period an increase of +4% was observed. The underlying trend, therefore, seems to be a global weakening of demand. However, average rates held firm in the first week of 2023, showing an increase of +1% compared with the previous week, whereas last year a substantial decrease was recorded of -5%.

Comparing weeks 52 and 1 with the preceding two weeks (2Wo2W), tonnages decreased -27% below their combined total in weeks 50 and 51, with a -5% decrease in capacity, while average worldwide rates declined -3% – based on the more than 400,000 weekly transactions covered by WorldACD’s data.

In this two-week period, tonnages were significantly down between all regions, as is common this time of year. Notable decreases were recorded between Europe and Central & South America (-34% eastbound, -44% westbound), between Europe and North America (-34% eastbound, -42% westbound), between Europe and Africa (southbound
-38%, northbound -27%) and between Europe and Asia Pacific (-34% eastbound, -15% westbound).

Year-on-Year perspective

Comparing the overall global market with this time last year, chargeable weight in weeks 52 and 1 was down -21% compared with the equivalent period last year, at -1% lower capacity. Notably, tonnages ex-North America are down by -29%, and ex-Asia Pacific tonnages are -26% below their strong levels this time last year. But there were also double-digit percent year-on-year drops on tonnages outbound from Europe (-18%) and Middle East & South Asia (-12%).

Overall capacity has fallen slightly (-1%) compared to the previous year and is down from Asia Pacific (-11%), Central & South America (-5%) and Europe (-2%), whereas from Africa (+12%), North America (+4%) and Middle East & South Asia (+4%) capacity remains above its levels this time last year.

Worldwide rates are currently -28% below their unusually elevated levels this time last year at an average of US$3.08 per kilo in week 1, despite the effects of higher fuel surcharges, but they remain significantly above pre-Covid levels.