Global air freight market and situation update



Peak Season for air cargo traditionally arrives in the latter half of September. It’s predictable although always a pain to negotiate and ensure that product, raw materials and components are available for the busy back end of the year, including the traditional retail festive season.

This year air freight has become an essential mode earlier than usual in August. As a result of production delays during the manufacturing process, ocean freight turmoil, airport closures, productivity delays and, of course, COVID-19 impact and regional lockdowns affecting all of the aforementioned. We are seeing a surge in demand and reduction in airline capacity we are experiencing.

Over the last week alone we have experienced  Shanghai Airport – Pudong – operating at 20% capacity due to air crew restrictions resulting in flight cancellations and operational issues with whole cargo terminals shut down and staff having to isolate on a cyclical basis. Dhaka Airport is also suffering from delays, with overwhelming demand for air freight uplift, due to ocean freight failures and lockdown fallout, with the consequences being catastrophic. 

These occurrences are not unique and are being seen throughout the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia and China, along with many other trade lanes globally, causing instability and unreliability in the critical express air freight market.

Airlines are increasing rates by the day and westbound cargo rates have increased significantly in a week. Export cargo from Europe has also been traumatised by the further reduction in capacity, with carriers having to cancel scheduled cargo flights due to air crew restrictions. 

Passenger driven demand has still not returned and the long-haul market looks unpredictable and doubtful for the rest of the year, resulting in a continued reliance on cargo-only capacity and flights, in the form of pure freighters and passenger converted aircraft. Carrying only cargo on all major routes, from Asia to global destinations. 

Many carriers have withdrawn their capacity agreements and are now quoting daily or weekly rates based on a spot basis only.

And this is in August with four months of the year to unwind and assuming/hoping there is no further disruption to ocean freight services, which seem to be occurring on a regular basis.

We continue to keep our customers and partners updated with developments, which are occurring on an almost daily basis, from and to all regions of the world in relation to air freight services, including charter operations and alternative sea/air and truck/air modes of transport.

If you have urgent and time critical movements please contact Elliot Carlile or Grant Liddell for immediate advice and a solution that will deliver based on transit versus cost. 

We anticipate a very hectic ‘peak period’, but will always share and recommend the best fit to ensure your supply chains and business continue to function.

Please contact us for the latest updates, if we have not proactively shared any specific requirements over the coming weeks and months. We are continually reviewing the platforms and initiatives that we roll out to customers, to ensure your goods are in the right place at the right time. Always.