In the week in which the holiday season started, global air cargo tonnages have dropped strongly, as is typical for this time of the year. However, despite the weakening trend in air cargo tonnages, this year's decline at the beginning of the holiday season is smaller than last year, the latest preliminary figures from WorldACD Market Data indicate.

Figures for week 51 (19 to 25 December) show an overall drop of -11% in worldwide flown tonnages compared with the previous week. The decrease in overall chargeable weight is normal for this time of the year as the holiday period begins, with this year's drop smaller than last year (-14%) when comparing week 51 to week 50. The average rates declined in week 51 by -2% compared to the previous week, which is slightly steeper than during the same period last year and a continuation of the sliding rate levels that we have witnessed since the beginning of the month.

Comparing weeks 50 and 51 with the preceding two weeks (2Wo2W), tonnages decreased -7% below their combined total in weeks 48 and 49, while average worldwide rates declined -3%, combined with a -3% decrease in capacity – based on the more than 400,000 weekly transactions covered by WorldACD’s data.

In this two-week period, tonnages were down between all regions, except from Middle East & South Asia to Asia Pacific (+5%), and intra-Asia Pacific (+3%). Most significant decreases were recorded from Asia Pacific to Europe (-18%), from North America to Europe (-16%) and from Europe to Africa (-16%).

Year-on-Year perspective

Comparing the overall global market with this time last year, chargeable weight in weeks 50 and 51 was down -20% compared with the equivalent period in 2021, at -3% lower capacity. Notably, tonnages ex-North America are down by -28%, and ex-Asia Pacific tonnages are -26% below their strong levels this time last year. But there were also double-digit percent year-on-year drops on tonnages outbound from Middle East & South Asia (-17%) and Europe (-11%).

Capacity reduced compared to previous year and is down almost from every region: Asia Pacific (-11%), Central & South America (-8%), Europe (-4%) and North America

(-3%), whereas from Africa (+15%) and Middle East & South Asia (+3%), capacity remains above its levels this time last year.

Worldwide rates are currently -28% below their unusually elevated levels this time last year at an average of US$3.14 per kilo, despite the effects of higher fuel surcharges, but they remain significantly above pre-Covid levels.