The average cost of air freight on 21 East-West routes fell to $3.58 per kilogram in December from a November rate of $3.81, a record, according to Drewry.
The firm’s East-West Air Freight Price Index shows a year-over-year decline of $0.02 in December, but reflects that the December rate is still the third-highest seen in 2013. The fourth-highest rate paid by forwarders on the route, $3.24, was recorded in September.
The quick rise in rates at the end of 2013 may have signaled that air cargo has finally climbed out of its malaise; according to Drewry, a leveling off in December was expected “as peak season volume eased and the effect of new product launches waned.” Analysts see the December result, which, in effect, is flat when compared to the same period as 2012, as evidence there is still oversupply and weak demand in the market.
A slight turnaround, however, is in store for the first month of 2014.
“Drewry expects air freight pricing to improve through January as space availability tightens in the run up to the Chinese New Year which commences at the end of the month,” it said. “Thereafter, we expect a further retreat through February as Chinese factory shut downs reduce demand.”
In February 2013, Drewry measured freight rates of $3.32 per kilogram, a slight increase from the January 2013 rate of $3.25.