The latest figures from Drewry’s Sea and Air Shipper Insight report show that average ‘all-in’ air freight rates across 21 major east-west trade lanes increased by 7.9% year on year in March to reach $2.84 per kg. Prices were also up on February levels when airlines achieved an average price across the trade lanes of $2.73 per kg.
Drewry said that this time last year prices remained broadly flat compared with the previous month but added that current prices were still relatively low. The major airports reporting tonnage figure surged month-on-month displays that despite relatively low airfreight rates, there has definitely been growth in the trade. Capacity continues to rise, albeit at a slower pace than last year, although utilisation has gone up along with the rise in load factors.”
Major airports have seen double-digit rises, while key carriers also reported good tonnage increases – the biggest gains from Lufthansa, up 19% year-on-year, and American and United rose 24%. Meanwhile, airlines have reported that product launches are now no longer confined to the fourth quarter and perishables are in year-round demand.
Back in February, Drewry said it expected pricing to soften through March, due to lower volumes following the Lunar New Year holiday and the easing of congestion at the US West Coast ocean ports. However, beginning in April, rates should recover as air freight demand picks back up.
There was a two cent dip in prices paid compared with February, but month-on-month declines are expected at this time of the year and the rate of decline was much slower than that of both 2015 and 2016.
The improvement in airfreight prices comes as airlines have been seeing unusually high demand for the time of the year, with some suggesting this is down to a containership capacity shortage as shipping lines are in the process of launching a series of new alliances. Underlying demand also seems to be improving, while jet fuel prices have increased by around 30% compared with a year ago.