Freight Market Update

08 September 2023
by Sam Cullen

Table of contents

By Sam Cullen
Published: 08/09/23
Last Edited: 08/09/23

Topic of the week:

With China’s Golden Week looming, can we expect a spike in the market, or will rates continue to tumble?

China's Golden Week, a week-long national holiday usually occurring in early October, has always had a profound impact on the freight and logistics industry. This period disrupts the flow of goods both domestically and internationally.

Before Golden Week, there's typically a rush of shipments as businesses try to meet production and delivery deadlines. Ports become congested, and shipping companies struggle to keep up with the increased demand for transportation services. This congestion can lead to delays in loading and unloading cargo containers, affecting supply chains.

During the holiday week itself, many factories and businesses close, causing a significant drop in manufacturing and production activities. This leads to a temporary reduction in cargo shipments, both imports and exports. Ports and warehouses may experience a slowdown or even partial shutdown, further affecting freight operations.

After Golden Week, there's a surge in demand for transportation and logistics services as businesses resume operations. This sudden uptick in activity can lead to congestion at ports, railway stations, and airports, potentially causing additional delays.

With major container lines experiencing a significant decline in Q2 compared to the previous year and rates falling due to weak demand during periods when there should be a spike, the week-long factory shutdown could deliver another substantial blow to the industry

Blanking sailings could help keep rates steady, with some directors calling for aggressive blanking as the lack of demand could push rates down. For example, MSC advised today that, “in line with lower demand,” it would again be suspending its standalone Asia-North Europe Swan loop, this time for six consecutive weeks, from week 37 through to week 42, in mid-October.

According to Sea-Intelligence data, and taking the transpacific as an example, the combined scheduled capacity reductions on the trade lane for the Golden Week period (Golden Week plus the following three weeks) are currently just 3%, compared with an average of 10% for the years between 2017 and 2019.

In conclusion, while the future remains uncertain, it's clear that China's Golden Week will continue to be a critical factor shaping the freight market. Industry players must stay agile, adapt to changing conditions, and closely monitor market developments to navigate these challenging times successfully.


  • Over the last two weeks China/East Asia to North America West Coast spot rates have fallen by 0.41% from $1,935 /FEU to $1,927 /FEU according to Freightos data.
  • China/East Asia to North America East Coast spot rates have risen over the last two weeks, increasing by 2.9% to $3,079/FEU.
  • Global container spot prices have fluctuated over the last two weeks, and are now sitting at $1,527/FEU, a 1.79% increase over the last two weeks, and a 68.59% decrease from spot rates in September 2022 according to the Freightos Baltic Index (FBX)
  • Newbuild 24,000 teu ultra-large container vessels are now being idled as soon as they are delivered in Asia, as carriers are obliged to blank more sailings due to weakening demand. According to a research note from Alphaliner today, the 2023-built 24,346 teu MSC Micol was scheduled to begin its maiden voyage from Shanghai on 12 October, joining the 2M’s Asia-North Europe AE55/Griffin loop, but it was cancelled as part of an aggressive blanking programme by alliance partners MSC and Maersk.


  • Global Air Freight spot rates currently sit at $2.38, remaining steady according to the Freightos Air Freight Index (FAX)
  • Europe to Northern America spot rates currently sit at $1.7(100-3000kg), says FAX, decreasing by 2.2%
  • Europe to Central Asia spot rates have risen by 8.4% currently sitting at $2.3 (100-3000kg), says FAX
  • Europe to Asia, Greater China spot rates continues to sit at $1.48 (100-3000kg), says FAX
  • Global capacity in August jumped 7%. While the dynamic load factor rose one percentage point month-on-month, it was down some 3% on last year.

That’s all for this week’s update…

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