Peak season arrives as Asia-Europe rates take off

By Damian Brett

Airfreight rates on services between Hong Kong and Europe have started to pick up as the peak season finally gets underway.

The latest figures from Tac Index show that in October the average price on services from Hong Kong to Europe reached $2.82 per kg, up from $2.56 in September.

While average prices for the month still lag by 8.7% on last year, there was a sharp weekly increase in prices as the month progressed and at the start of November rates were level with a year earlier at $3.20 per kg.

The increase in rates reflects comments from industry contacts that the peak season appears to be getting underway, although they remain cautious about how long it could last.

Rates on services between Hong Kong and North America have not shown quite the pick-up, although there were some early signs of the peak season towards the end of October and at the start of November.

Average prices for October stood at $3.49 per kg, which is down 27.3% on the same month last year and only five cents up on September levels.

Earlier in October, Cathay Pacific hailed a positive start to the peak season.

“We anticipate that the peak will last into early December,” a Cathay Pacific executive said. “Then we and the industry will await the outcome of trade talks between the US and Mainland China.”

Derivatives broker Freight Investor Services Peter Stallion said: “Carriers can certainly count their blessings with any sort of price increase on any high-volume lane given the slow and painful cash flow bleed throughout most of the year.

“The spot figures support any assessment that peak season is here, and here to stay for at least the next few weeks.

“However, the confused reaction to trade-war concessions and a ‘stable’ – if highly depressing – air cargo export market in Hong Kong, despite political unrest, has lent to an equally confused forward picture for market participants.”

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