Key insights:

  1. Ocean rates stayed level but still extremely elevated globally as port congestion remains a problem. Increases are likely as we get closer to Lunar New Year in February.
  2. With only a couple weeks until the holidays, air cargo peak season is at its height. Demand is putting even more pressure on rates than usual as capacity is reduced by limited passenger travel – possibly to be made worse by omicron fears – ground handling shortages and tougher quarantine restrictions for pilots in places like Hong Kong.
  3. Freightos data shows China-N. Europe rates have increased more than 30% since the start of November to $7.84/kg and China-US West Coast rates have climbed past their record high set during the PPE rush in May 2020.

Asia-US rates:

  • Asia-US West Coast prices (FBX01 Daily) went unchanged at $14,924/FEU. This rate is 285% higher than the same time last year.
  • Asia-US East Coast prices (FBX03 Daily) increased 2% to $17,195/FEU, and are 250% higher than rates for this week last year.

  • Analysis

Firmly in the post-peak season pre-Lunar New Year period, ocean rates remained steady but still very elevated as widespread congestion has been enough to keep rates up on all major lanes.

Though dwell times and volumes of long-dwelling containers at the ports of LA/Long Beach continue to improve, so far there’s been no drop in the total number of backlogged ships. But the ports are hoping that steps like creating off-site container yards will help them replicate the success Georgia’s ports have seen in the last few weeks as they cut the number of waiting ships in half.

Like every year, as ocean peak season winds down, air peak season heats up. This year, air rates are feeling even more upward pressure than usual from reduced passenger jet capacity – which could be made worse by omicron fears – and congestion due to labor shortages among overwhelmed ground crews. Strict quarantine restrictions in places like Hong Kong are also complicating operations for many airlines.

Freightos Data shows that Shanghai-US West Coast air cargo prices have now climbed past their May 2020 PPE-rush peak, with the Freightos Air Index showing China-N. Europe rates have increased more than 30% since the start of November to $7.84/kg.