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Airfreight muted by global upheavals

Weekly data for March, and up to 3 April 2022, shows volumes compared to the pre-Covid level in 2019 fell 6.5% last month and were 4.5% lower than March 2021. Similarly, general air cargo capacity stood at -14% versus March 2019 and at -4% compared to the same month a year ago. This was exacerbated by the closure of Russian airspace and the immediate cancellation of some airline capacity, which led to a quick 20% fall in Europe-NE Asia capacity.

CLIVE’s ‘dynamic load factor’ - which considers both the volume and weight perspectives of cargo flown and capacity available to produce a true indicator of airline performance – was largely unchanged month-over-month at 66%. This was the same level seen in the same month of 2019, but 6% points lower than March 2021 after record load factor levels in the opening weeks of last year.

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Overall airfreight rates remained at similar elevated levels to those seen in February, averaging +141% compared to March 2019 and +27% higher than March 2021. CLIVE also identified a rise in the amount of airline cargo capacity being placed on the short-term spot rate market, with particular impact regionally. Spot rates and spot share continued to rise on the Europe to Japan trade lane, for example, with spot rates from Japan to Europe climbing in the last week of the month (March 21-27) to levels of around EUR 5.00 per kg, nearly 50% higher than in the weeks preceding the Ukraine war. The spot share (= amount of chargeable weight being ‘sold’ at a spot rate) increased to nearly 60% or 20% points higher than the spot share in early February.

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