Global air cargo tonnages dropped by -3% at the end of August and the beginning of September from their levels the previous week, following a similar pattern as during the same period the previous year. And comparing the preliminary figures for the full month of August with the same month last year, the year-on-year (YoY) decline narrowed slightly but was still -3%, compared with -5% in May and June and -4% in July 2023, according to the latest figures from WorldACD Market Data.

The last four months together show a decline of almost -5% compared with the equivalent months in 2022, a significantly less optimistic picture than some other industry reports.

WorldACD’s uniquely comprehensive database – the largest air cargo database in the industry – indicate only a limited gradual narrowing of the gap between this year’s and last year’s equivalent monthly tonnages – a diminishing yet still significant deficit compared with last year’s volumes, which had already fallen by this time last year from the highs of early 2022 and 2021.

Weekly analysis

Meanwhile, figures for week 35 (28 August to 3 September) show a -3% drop in tonnages compared with the previous week, while average worldwide air cargo prices went up slightly (+1%), week-on-week (WoW). And comparing weeks 34 and 35 with the preceding two weeks (2Wo2W), overall tonnages increased slightly, by +1%, versus their combined total in weeks 32 and 33, while worldwide rates remained flat and capacity slightly decreased (-1%).

At a regional level, the largest decrease in tonnages (2Wo2W) was recorded outbound from North America (-4%), driven by a steep drop in volumes to Asia Pacific (-11%). Other regional flows were overall stable to positive, with a few upward swings – on flows ex-Middle East & South Asia to respectively Asia Pacific (+10%) and Europe (+6%), and ex-Europe to Asia Pacific (+8%).

On the pricing side, average global rates remained flat (2Wo2W), along with prices from all the main origin regions. Noteworthy decreases in pricing were recorded on lanes ex-Middle East & South Asia to Asia Pacific (-6%) and ex-Europe to Central & South America (-5%), while on lanes ex-North America to Asia Pacific a significantly positive trend was observed (+5%).

Year-on-year perspective

Comparing the overall global market with this time last year, chargeable weight in weeks 34 and 35 was down -7% compared with the equivalent period last year (YoY), with double digit percentage decreases in tonnages ex-North America (-20%) and ex-Europe (-13%). However, other origin regions remained fairly stable.

Overall capacity has increased by +8% compared with last year, with capacity ex-Asia Pacific up by a noteworthy +23%. Other significant YoY capacity increases can be observed ex-Middle East & South Asia (+9%), ex-Europe (+8%), while a significant decrease was recorded ex-Central & South America (-7%).

Worldwide average rates are currently -35% below their levels this time last year, at an average of US$2.29 per kilo in week 35, although they remain significantly above pre-Covid levels (+34% compared to August 2019).