Shanghai-Europe air freight rates are up 10pc in September on back of HK protests

AIR cargo rates from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to Europe rose by 10

08 October 2019 - 19:00
AIR cargo rates from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to Europe rose by 10.45 per cent in September, as Shanghai captured a greater share of a market attempting to bypass protest-hit Hong Kong.

Rates on the Shanghai-Europe trade lane were largely flat in the run-up to September. Shanghai is China's leading airport by cargo volume, and the world's third-busiest air freight hub, handling four million tonnes in 2018, reported JOC.

According to Freight Investor Services (FIS) analyst Peter Stallion, data produced by the company showed a clear transfer of cargo volumes from Hong Kong to Shanghai and greater China due to social unrest in Hong Kong, declining volumes and excess capacity. As a result, rates out of Hong Kong have fallen steadily, while Shanghai lanes have posted a slow but steady increase.

Cargo statistics from Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) for August show that total volume fell by 11.5 per cent. Transshipment volumes dived by 20 per cent in August year on year, while imports decreased by 15 per cent.

Much of the drop in transshipment and import volumes involved air cargo from Southeast Asia and China as forwarders altered routings to avoid potential delays in Hong Kong caused by the anti-government protests. Demonstrations at the airport in August led to hundreds of flights being cancelled.

'So far we are not really seeing cargo moving to Shanghai, but rather to Guangzhou and Shenzhen, which for sure have benefitted with some cargo - we have done it - diverted from Hong Kong,' Dachser Far East's managing director Edoardo Podesta was quoted as saying. 'This situation may continue, especially for cargo from some large Chinese companies.'

While the impact of the US-China trade war on sourcing decisions are more obvious in ocean shipping - US containerised imports from China are down, while imports from Vietnam have risen sharply - the effects of tariffs on air cargo remains unclear.

Air freight analyst WorldACD compared air cargo exports in the June-August period with the same period the previous year and found China-US shipment revenue was down 18 per cent, while the other origins in Asia Pacific lost 16 per cent combined.

Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea each lost 25 per cent in air cargo revenue compared with July-August last year, but Vietnam and Taiwan gained four per cent and 15 per cent, respectively. In transpacific westbound, Vietnam air cargo revenue rose 10 per cent, while all other trade lanes out of the US were down sharply.

'Vietnam is clearly improving its position in air cargo flows to and from the US, and to a somewhat lesser extent, so is Taiwan. But the countries in Northeast Asia do not make the impression that they benefit from the trade war,' WorldACD found.

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