Rates surge in October despite ‘lower than expected’ load factors

By Damian Brett

Source: CLIVE Data Services

Air cargo rates surged in October due to shipper fears of a lack of peak season inventory, according to CLIVE Data Services.

Figures from CLIVE Data Services show that average rates in October were up by 155% compared with 2019, 37% compared with last year and 10% compared with September.

In contrast, October’s dynamic load factor, which take account of both weight and space, increased by six percentage points on a year ago to 68% and was even down three percentage points on last year.

Compared with September, the dynamic load “remained lower than expected” increasing by only two percentage points.

Niall van de Wouw, CLIVE, managing director, said: “With load factors up 2% points versus September, you can see the build up to the peak season but, admittedly, demand is not yet as high as some stakeholders had feared (or hoped).

“Capacity on a like-for-like basis (compared to September 2021) was more or less flat (+1%) and, combined with a load factor of 68%, this does not seem to indicate the final sprint to the end of the year has started.

“October was a steady month in the market overall with some strong seasonality factors, but the dynamic load factor was lower than anticipated given the strong week-over-week increases we reported in September.

“A global dynamic load factor of 68% does show how efficiently the market is currently operating in terms of matching supply and demand.”

Demand for October increased 3% compared with the pre-pandemic year of 2019 while capacity was down 13%.

However, the data provider said that it had recorded “significant market performance deviations”.

“Flights ex Asia Pacific (APAC)-Europe remained virtually full to capacity, lifting rates by a further 20% over September 2021, while APAC-North America rates reached a double-digit level per kilo.”

“Load factors out of APAC Westbound in October 2021 stood at 91%, while eastbound also produced a strong 89%.

“Some mid-tier markets in Asia, such as Vietnam and Malaysia, showed the highest Spot rates – between $9-10 per kg for spot shipments into Europe. In comparison, Hong Kong, in the last week of October, was close to $7 per kg.”

The latest figures from the Baltic Exchange Airfreight Index show that in October rates on services from Hong Kong to Europe increased by 19.9% compared with September to $6.68 per kg, while from Hong Kong to North America – already at an elevated level – there was a 2% increase to $9.94 per kg.

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