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Airfreight rates climb on the transpacific in March

Transpacific airfreight rates picked up in March, although there were further declines from Hong Kong to Europe and across the Atlantic.

The latest statistics from the Baltic Exchange Airfreight Index (BAI) show that prices from Hong Kong to North America in March increased by 9% compared with February to $5.38 per kg.

Prices from China to the US were also up, increasing by 7.8% in March compared with February.

“Sources cited an ‘end-of-quarter rush’ particularly in e-commerce and garments ahead of Easter – though [they are] also expecting prices to soften again,” stated data provider TAC Index in its weekly market round-up.

Forwarder Flexport, meanwhile, reported that airlines have begun retiring freighters and some charters have been cancelled, leading to capacity being nearly on par with pre-Covid numbers.

And data firm WorldACD last week reported that its figures show a clear stabilisation in both worldwide tonnages as well as the global average rate, compared with the previous week, following several weeks of relative stability.

However, while March saw improvements in prices to North America, there were further declines on services to Europe.

The BAI Index for Hong Kong to Europe showed a decline of 5.7% in March compared with February to $4.15 per kg.

Meanwhile, rates from China to Europe declined by 2.2% month on month in March to $3.96 per kg.

Over the last few years, rates from Asia to both Europe and North America have tended to be fairly consistent between the two months – sometimes registering a slight increase and sometimes a slight decrease as prices stabilise during the quieter spring/early summer period.

Meanwhile, when looking at rate performance compared with a year ago, prices remain down – by 18.5% on Hong Kong-Europe and 34.2% on Hong Kong-North America.

In the final week of March, the overall Baltic Air Freight Index gained 0.7% on the previous week but it was down 34.2% over 12 months.

“That annual price change is now not far out of line with jet fuel prices, which fell -27.3% in the year to 17 March, according to Platt’s data,” pointed out TAC Index.

It should also be noted that rates remain above pre-Covid levels. From Hong Kong to Europe rates stood at $2.61 per kg in March 2019, while Hong Kong to North America was $3.38 per kg.

Credit: by: Damian Brett

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