Transpacific airfreight rates edge back up

By Damian Brett

Transpacific airfreight rates increased last week as two US carriers temporarily back tracked on their plans for services to Hong Kong.

The latest figures from TAC Index show that airfreight rates from Shanghai to North America increased by 4.2% week on week to $4.69 per kg while from Hong Kong to North America prices edged up by 4.2% to $4.74 per kg.

Rates remain above last year’s levels when carriers were able to charge an average of $3.31 per kg from Shanghai and $3.53 per kg from Hong Kong.

However, prices have been declining on the transpacific since mid-May as the need for the urgent transportation of personal protective equipment (PPE) and congestion at Chinese airports has eased.

Air cargo derivatives broker Freight Investor Services said that US carriers had altered their plans for services to Hong Kong.

“Transpacific gets a boost as open market physical prices speedily react to reduced capacity, following the announcements that US airlines (United and American Airlines) cancelled their Hong Kong schedules following Covid-19 tests for crew,” it said in its weekly market wrap up.

Hong Kong is requiring crew members to submit deep throat saliva samples on arrival.

American is now planning to restart flights on August 5, while United is assessing the situation.

Freight portal Freightos reported a demand surge as US businesses “add inventory that’s finally run down since their last orders in March or April as restrictions in some areas are reduced, businesses are reopening and even US manufacturing is recovering somewhat”.  

Freightos also pointed out that on August 7 some US tariffs will expire for hundreds of products, from coffee filters to skateboards, on $200bn worth of Chinese goods.

“Air cargo volumes are increasing even as the PPE demand that sent rates soaring has stabilised,” it said.

Meanwhile, prices from China and Hong Kong to Europe continue to decline, although the rate of drop off has again slowed. From Shanghai there was a 2.5% week-on-week decline to $3.13 per kg and from Hong Kong average rates were down 6.5% to $3.04 per kg.

Last year rates from Shanghai stood at $2.47 per kg and from Hong Kong they were at $2.65 per kg.

“For the most part, the drive remains downwards back to some form of normality,” FIS said. “A poor view on the future of the market has started to impact the highly diversified time frames for BSA or long term contract renewals.”

Elsewhere, the Volga-Dnepr Group has reported continued interest in freighter operations from forwarders as they seek stability in charter operations, while the future of bellyhold services remains hard to predict.

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