Freight Market Update

06 October 2023
by Sam Cullen

Table of contents

By Sam Cullen
Published: 06/10/23
Last Edited: 06/10/23

Topic of the week:

After over a year of low air cargo demand things may be starting to look up. This week the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released a report that has shown growth in air cargo demand for the first time in 19 months. Data that looked over August 2023 global air cargo markets indicated a 1.5% increase in demand when compared to data from August last year.

Demand was measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), and international operations showed a 2% increase. In terms of capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs) increased by 12.2% with 8% growth for international operations from August 2022.

According to IATA there are multiple factors that need to be considered when looking at the operating environment. First of all, In August, there was a slight improvement in two key indicators: the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for manufacturing output reached 49.4, and the PMI for new export orders was at 47.0. However, both numbers are still below the critical threshold of 50. This suggests that global manufacturing production and exports are still declining compared to the previous year, although at a slower rate. Reduced demand and overall economic conditions, have resulted in a 3.2% decline in global cross-border trade when compared to Jul 2022, which has been shrinking for four months in a row. IATA also stated that in the US inflation increased over two consecutive months, whilst Europe and Japan saw prices drop. China also saw a rise in consumer prices, as August inflation trends differed for each region.

While some carriers saw their volumes increase such as Asia-Pacific, some dipped in different regions over August. Asia-Pacific carriers saw a 4.9% increase from August 2022, as well as Middle Eastern carriers at an increase of 1.4%. However some saw volumes decline such as European carriers at -0.2% and North American carriers at -1.2%. African carriers experienced the largest drop in volume at 4.7% over the year.

“Looking ahead, while many uncertainties remain, we can take some optimism from PMI data moving towards positive territory. This is particularly significant as we head into air cargo’s traditional peak year-end season,” stated IATA’s Director General, Willie Walsh.

Overall, it has been a difficult time for air freight, but as rays of hope begin to appear, demand could be on the horizon.


  • Over the last two weeks China/East Asia to North America West Coast spot rates have fallen by 9.6% from $1,866 /FEU to $1,686 /FEU according to Freightos data.
  • China/East Asia to North America East Coast spot rates have fallen over the last two weeks, decreasing by 15.6% to $2,433/FEU.
  • Global container spot prices have declined over the last two weeks, and are now sitting at $1,389/FEU, a 15.8% decrease over the last two weeks, and a 71% decrease from spot rates in September 2022 according to the Freightos Baltic Index (FBX)
  • The Japanese shipowner MOL is now working with EDF Renewables, in a collaborative effort to develop the offshore wind sector and green hydrogen. As more and more companies look at creating a greener freight industry “we believe this collaboration would accelerate the development of offshore wind farm and green hydrogen projects all over the world,” says Masayuki Sugiyama, executive officer at MOL’s wind power project and carbon power solution unit.


  • Global Air Freight spot rates currently sit at $2.47, a slight increase as rates continue to fluctuate according to the Freightos Air Freight Index (FAX)
  • Europe to Northern America spot rates currently sit at $1.67 (100-3000kg), says FAX, increasing by 0.6%
  • Europe to Central Asia spot rates have fallen slightly by 1.2% currently sitting at $2.30 (100-3000kg), says FAX
  • Europe to Asia, Greater China spot rates currently sit at $1.44 (100-3000kg), says FAX, a 0.7% increase
  • Amazon Air’s new A330-300P2F aircraft have taken flight as October 2nd marked the beginning of their new passenger to freighter fleet. “These A330s aren’t just the first of their kind in our fleet. They’ll also be the newest, largest aircraft for Amazon Air, allowing us to transport more customer packages with each flight,” says Amazon Air.
  • Qatar Airways Cargo introduced their new freighter service to Warsaw. This new service offers weekly flights with 100 tonnes cargo capacity. The freighter service is now operational as it commenced on 1st October.

That’s all for this week’s update…

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