Intra-Asia airfreight rates surge; China to Europe/US prices are rising

THE TAC Index shows that airfreight rates on trade routes between China and Singapore, and from China to Korea have jumped over the past few weeks, with prices from Singapore to China hitting SGD4.50 (US$3.27) per kilogramme last week, while in the opposite direction they stood at CNY16 per kg ($2.36).

From China to South Korea rates are above CNY10.5 per kg, up from CNY8 per kg last year.

South Korea to China peaked in week five at above KRW2,600 ($2.34) per kg, before easing off in the following weeks.

Prices on these routes began to surge in week six and week seven of the year.

Meanwhile, prices from China to Europe and China to the US have only recently started to show signs of improvement.

This has led to speculation that the intra-Asian spike in prices was down to semi-conductor companies boosting production ahead of the re-opening of factories in China following the prolonged Lunar New Year holiday due to the coronavirus, reported London's Air Cargo News.

Meanwhile, Peter Stallion from derivatives broker Freight Investor Services said that prices on services from China to Europe and the US were beginning to rise in line with expectations.

"Finally, and what the entire market at this point was expecting, prices rise as freight volumes hit air transport," he said. "Capacity still remains low, passenger traffic has yet to resume, however full freighter schedules have restarted with a number of notable airlines (Lufthansa, Qatar, Emirates, Cargolux to name a few).

"Although supply disruption is providing healthy load factor ex Asia for freighter operators, the core business airlines still remains under significant pressure. Cathay has parked half of its entire fleet, and slashes three quarters of its scheduled flights, Air Cargo Global goes into restructuring, and CargoLogicAir tragically [suspends] operations."

Forwarders also backed these findings. Agility said: "Intra-Asia trade lanes are now tremendously impacted and congested while intra-Asian wide-body belly capacity has reduced heavily and drives rapid surge for AF [air freight] rates on daily base.

"China outbound freight capacity is getting congested while production is gradually resuming to the market. Volumes are ramping up since mid of February and expecting a heavy quarter-end in Q1 2020."

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