Air freight rates out of Asia are slowly inching back up to February’s yearly high of $3.32 per kilogram, ending April at $3.21 per kilogram, a rise of $0.06 over March’s figure, according to the Drewry East-West Air Freight Price Index.
The index measures the average per-kilogram price paid by forwarders to airlines on 21 major East-West routes. Each result factors in the base rate plus any security and fuel surcharges.
February’s high-water mark came in $0.32 per kilo less than last year’s top mark of $3.64 in November. Rates came down by $0.04 in December before crashing down to $3.25 per kilogram in January.
With the slow tick up in freight rates, airline representatives, who kept expressing “cautious optimism” at the CNS Partnership Conference earlier this month in Phoenix, seem to have reason to expect brighter skies ahead. It seems that the air cargo market, globally, is doing better, but none of the conference attendees were ready to say there will be a significant increase in activity in the near future.
The latest activity numbers from the International Air Transport Association bear out the weak market conditions. The organization found that freight markets were down by 2.3-percent in March, year over year – a result that continues the recent downward trend in cargo activity seen since last year. On the year, global market activity is off last year’s pace by 1.1 percent, and capacity has constricted by 0.6 percent.
Last month, North American cargo carriers saw the steepest activity decline (5.2 percent) of any region, and Asia-Pacific traffic fell by 3.3 percent.
Despite the prices not being as high as they could be, at least one carrier still likes his performance in Asia. American Airlines’ Kenji Hashimoto said that the lane is performing well compared to other routes. AA Cargo just launched this month a route from Dallas to Seoul.
“Relative to how things have been a few years ago, maybe things aren’t as robust or strong,” he said during the conference, “but for us, we still find those routes [to Asia], on a standalone basis, are performing great.” – Jon Ross