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Freight Market Update: May 6, 2024

Freighter makes headway towards the Red Sea port of Aqaba, Jordan

Ocean freight market update

China-North America

  • Rate changes: This week, ocean freight rates for containers from China to the US West Coast showed a modest increase, while rates to the US East Coast slightly declined. The general trend indicates a stabilization in rates, but with a slight upward bias expected as we move closer to the peak season. This could suggest a nearly 5% increase on the West Coast and a slight dip of around 2% on the East Coast, aligning with seasonal adjustments and capacity shifts.

  • Market changes: Market dynamics continue to evolve with increased activity in transshipment hubs in the Mediterranean due to rerouted capacities from the Red Sea crisis. This has caused a minor congestion in some US ports but is accompanied by a cautious optimism for a resurgence in demand as we approach the traditional peak season. Indicators show a possible strengthening in market conditions, potentially leading to more robust demand in the coming months.


  • Rate changes: Rates from China to North Europe have shown relative stability with a minor increase observed, suggesting a nearly 3% rise, driven by mild seasonal upticks in demand and adjustments in carrier strategies, including planned rate increases. Conversely, the Mediterranean routes experienced a slight decline in rates by around 2%, influenced by shifts in vessel allocations.

  • Market changes: The European market is witnessing a recalibration, with carriers strategizing around the recent disruptions in the Red Sea. The transfer of Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCVs) to the Mediterranean has impacted capacity and rate levels slightly, with a potential for more pronounced effects if the situation persists. The market is braced for these changes to influence the short-term logistics landscape, possibly stabilizing by the next quarter.

Air freight/Express market update

China-US and Europe

  • Rate changes: Air freight rates from China to North America have notably increased, reflecting a surge of nearly 10% in response to robust e-commerce demand and tight capacity. Conversely, rates to Europe also rose by approximately 20%, influenced by regional demand spikes and ongoing logistical adjustments due to external disruptions.

  • Market changes: The air cargo sector is adjusting to a new normal with ongoing capacity challenges. The redirection of ocean freight traffic to air due to the Red Sea disruptions has temporarily boosted air cargo volumes, but the situation is starting to stabilize. There is a growing expectation of normalization in rates and volumes as the market heads into the second half of the year, with strategic shifts likely as carriers and shippers adapt to the evolving global trade environment.

Disclaimer: All information and views in this post are provided for reference purposes only and do not constitute any investment or purchase advice. The information quoted in this report is from public market documents and may be subject to change. Alibaba.com makes no warranties or guarantees for the accuracy or integrity of the information above.

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