Air cargo rates continue to rise last month

April 2021 may be remembered by some as the month in which at least part of the air cargo figures returned to some kind of normality, reports AJOT.

Although worldwide volumes were up by 53 per cent and wide-body capacity by a ‘matching’ 51 per cent year-over-year, air cargo increased by a much more ‘normal’ 3 per cent when compared to April 2019.

The average rate/kg went up from an already ‘unheard of’ level of US$3.12 in March to $3.30, even though it came down by 12 per cent from the crazy level of April 2020. Wide-body freighter capacity increased by 1 per cent year on year, but what to think of the changing role of wide-bodied passenger aircraft?

They produced one-fifth of total cargo capacity in April 2020, when many passenger flights were cancelled. A year later, the figures are completely different: in April 2021, cargo capacity on wide-bodied passenger aircraft almost tripled yoy, and comes very close to the total capacity produced on wide-bodied freighters.

Special air cargo drivers categories running behind average growth

Breaking down some of our data, we see that product categories showed varying yoy-results in April. General cargo (+61 per cent), live animals (+78 per cent) and flowers (+67 per cent) did better than average, as the latter two categories also managed to further increase their rates compared to April 2020.

The usual drivers of special cargo did not fulfil their role this month: vulnerable/high-tech (+30 per cent) and pharma (-3 per cent) were lagging far behind the average growth of 53 per cent realised this month, but they increased most when comparing them with April 2019.

Contrary to what one may have thought, the market share of the world’s 20 largest forwarders did not change, even though three fell out of the group to be replaced by three others. Growth percentages within this group varied between 17.5 per cent and 130 per cent.

Air cargo exports from the Americas best performer

Although the question by definition cannot be answered, many people would like to find out what would have happened without Covid. Trying to make any sense of air cargo developments, calls for comparing this year with the pre-Covid-year of 2019, which leads to the following overview for the month of April.

The Americas actually gained most in air cargo exports (+8 per cent), a bit more than Asia Pacific (+7 per cent) and Europe (+1 per cent ). Africa (-5 per cent) and the Middle East & South Asia (MESA, -17 per cent) were less fortunate. One level lower, we see Mexico (+14 per cent), North East Asia (+12 per cent) and USA (+10 per cent) as clear winners, whilst Australasia (-27 per cent), the Gulf Area (-22 per cent), South Asia (-19 per cent) and Southern Africa (-17 per cent) show seriously weakened positions.

© 2016 HKSG Group Media Ltd.

Photo: NYC Russ /