Global air cargo tonnages have shown a strong post-holiday season recovery in the second week of 2023. This upswing is delayed compared with last year, when tonnages had already begun to recover by the end of the first week. However, when combining the first two weeks of 2023, the recovery is similar in magnitude to last year, the latest preliminary figures from WorldACD Market Data indicate.

Figures for week 2 (9 to 15 January) show a jump of +19% in worldwide tonnages compared with the previous week, while last year in the same period an increase of +13% was observed. When looking at the first two weeks together, the scale of this year’s recovery (+18%) is similar to that seen last year (+16%). Average rates continued to hold firm into the second week of 2023, whereas last year a decrease was recorded of -2% compared with the previous week.

Comparing weeks 1 and 2 with the preceding two weeks (2Wo2W), tonnages decreased -8% below their combined total in weeks 51 and 52, with a +3% increase in capacity, while average worldwide rates declined -1% – based on the more than 400,000 weekly transactions covered by WorldACD’s data.

Despite the strong recovery compared with the previous week, tonnages were still down from all regions in this two-week period. On a regional level, tonnages outbound Europe were down to all other regions, on a 2Wo2W basis, with the most notable decreases to Africa (-23%), Middle East & South Asia (-22%) and Asia Pacific (-17%). Furthermore, intra-Asia Pacific tonnages were down by -16%. But some positive developments were also recorded, from Middle East & South Asia to Europe (+13%), from North America to Europe (+5%), and from Central & South America to North America (+5%).

Year-on-Year perspective

Comparing the overall global market with this time last year, chargeable weight in weeks 1 and 2 was down -20% compared with the equivalent period last year, at +8% lower capacity. Notably, tonnages ex-Asia Pacific are down by -27% below their strong levels this time last year and ex-North America are down by -25%. But there were also double-digit percent year-on-year drops on tonnages outbound from Europe (-15%) and Middle East & South Asia (-14%).

Overall capacity has increased (+8%) compared to the previous year from all regions, most notable ex-Africa (+18%), ex-North America (+11%) and ex-Middle East & South Asia (+10%).

Worldwide rates are currently -25% below their unusually elevated levels this time last year at an average of US$3.06 per kilo in week 2, despite the effects of higher fuel surcharges, but they remain significantly above pre-Covid levels.

WorldACD weekly report