Air Cargo Demand Surges as E-commerce Boom Redefines Seasonal Norms

Experts predict sustained peak season until Chinese New Year, driven by e-commerce demand

The air cargo industry is experiencing a surge in demand, driven primarily by the booming e-commerce market and shifting seasonal norms. Industry experts believe that this peak season could extend until Chinese New Year in February, signaling a departure from the traditional patterns. The rise in demand is attributed to new product launches after the Golden Week holiday in China, as well as the increased e-commerce demand from South China and Hong Kong to America and Europe. However, the question remains: will this be a lasting impact or a short-term peak?

E-commerce Hotspots: China-US and China-Europe Tradelanes

According to Steffen Treiber, SVP airfreight at DHL Global Forwarding, the e-commerce boom is reshaping tradelanes. It is not just Westerners buying Chinese goods; it is a global phenomenon where everyone is buying goods from all over the world. Neil Wilson, editor at TAC Index, concurred, highlighting China-US and China-Europe as the hotspots of this upward trend. The e-commerce demand from these regions is expected to continue until Chinese New Year, further challenging the conventional seasonal norms.

Rising Market with Long-Term Potential

While year-on-year rates are still lower by approximately 26%, the market has significantly rebounded from the summer months when rates were around 50% lower. This gradual but steady rise indicates that the current surge in air cargo demand has the potential to sustain itself beyond the peak season. Yossi Shoukroun, CEO of Challenge Group, emphasized the need for the industry to adapt to these changing tradelanes and capitalize on the e-commerce boom that is not only happening from Asia but also to Asia.

Geopolitical Tensions and the Impact on Supply Chains

Despite the positive outlook, experts warn that geopolitical tensions have the capacity to affect air cargo capacity and short-term rates. The recent conflict in Gaza, for example, has led to an increase in fuel prices, subsequently driving up transport costs. Steffen Treiber highlighted the significant impact that geopolitics can have on supply chains, potentially leading to trade disruptions and tariffs that make the movement of goods more challenging and expensive globally.

Conclusion:

The air cargo industry is currently witnessing a surge in demand driven by the e-commerce boom, reshaping traditional seasonal norms. Experts predict that this peak season could extend until Chinese New Year, defying historical patterns. The rise in e-commerce demand from China and Hong Kong to America and Europe, as well as changing tradelanes globally, indicates a long-term potential for sustained growth. However, geopolitical tensions remain a concern, with the potential to disrupt supply chains and increase costs. As the industry adapts to these evolving dynamics, it must navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities presented by the e-commerce revolution.


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