Rates decline in March despite Ukraine crisis and Covid restrictions

By Damian Brett

Image: Shutterstock

Airfreight rates on major east-west trade lanes declined in March despite the impact of the Ukraine crisis on airfreight and supply chain disruption in Asia caused by Covid.

The latest figures from the Baltic Exchange Airfreight Index (BAI) show that in March rates on services from Hong Kong to North America declined to $8.18 per kg from $9.68 per kg a month earlier.

Airfreight prices from Hong Kong to Europe over the same time period slid to $5.09 per kg in March from $5.80 per kg a month earlier.

While prices traditionally decline at this time of year as the industry enters a quiet period, there has been much disruption in the market since the start of the year.

At the start of the month, Russia’s Volga-Dnepr Group took the decision to stop operations on its AirBridgeCargo (ABC) and Atran Airlines subsidiaries as a result of western sanctions in response to the Ukraine crisis.

ABC operates a fleet of 18 widebody freighters (17 B747Fs and a single B777F) and Atran Airlines has a fleet of five B737Fs.

Later in month, CargoLogicAir and CargoLogic Germany also stopped flying as a result of the sanctions.

The Antonov fleet has also stopped flying as a result of the conflict.

Prices would have also been pushed up on the Asia-Europe trade lane due to airspace bans forcing carriers to take longer routes on the Asia-Europe trade. Japan-based carrier Nippon Cargo Airlines even took the decision to fly via Anchorage to reach Europe.

Fuel prices were also on the rise due to the conflict.

Meanwhile, there was ongoing disruption in Hong Kong caused by Covid lockdown measures which hit cross border operations with China and resulted in restricted long-haul flying from Cathay Pacific.

Supply chain operations in Shenzhen and Shanghai were also affected by a Covid outbreak.

While prices compared with February, they remain at a high level and are ahead of the year-ago level. Prices from Hong Kong to Europe are up 25.7% compared with last year and from Hong Kong to North America they are up 26.2%.

CargoLogic Germany suspended from EU airspace and CargoLogicAir fleet inactive

VDG confirms suspension of AirBridgeCargo and Atran operations

Cathay Pacific freighters to return to Europe in April

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