September marks the fifth consecutive month of positive indicators in the global air cargo market since April 2020’s 37 percent year-on-year decline in volumes – signalling a continued gradual recovery, according to CLIVE Data Services.

Industry analysts at CLIVE Data Services and TAC Index said that the latest analysis points towards a sustainable recovery at the start of what is usually peak season for the market. 

September’s chargeable weight transported recorded a year-on-year decrease of 15 percent, which represents a month-on-month improvement of 9 percent. The dynamic load factor averaged 70 percent, an increase of 2 percentage points from August, and an increase of 8 percentage points compared to last year.

Robert Frei, business development director at TAC Index, said that there were steady increases in pricing week-over-week in September. Rates on lanes from China/Hong Kong to the EU in the last week of the month were 8 percent higher than in the last week of August.

Rates on trans-Atlantic routes also reported significant gains – with westbound and eastbound airfreight rates rising 170 percent and 73 percent, respectively.

Niall van de Wouw, managing director of CLIVE, said that this analysis reveals more positivity than what was expected given the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The air cargo market seems to be quite resilient. In April, CLIVE stated that the industry’s downward performance was ‘bottoming out’ and this has proven to be correct, with month-over-month improvements ever since.”

However, van de Wouw added that whilst this might be encouraging for airlines, it could become toxic for shippers and forwarders who are faced with higher airfreight costs.

“Uncertainty over how the market will develop alongside very high load factors is a toxic combination for the buyers of airfreight capacity. If this demand persists, and shippers are prepared to pay, we may well see a resurgence in passenger planes being deployed mainly or solely for moving freight,” he said.