Market Letters

International Airfreight Market Update – Week 4, 2021

Airfreight Rates Rebound: Transpacific airfreight rates dropped nearly $5.00 per KG coming into 2021, falling from $8.00/kg to below $4.00. This drop did not last long. With three weeks still remaining until the start of the Chinese New Year holiday, rates have jumped back up by 20-30% this week. Though the west coast has enjoyed rates as low as $3.75, importers can now expect to pay just about $5.00/kg, add another $0.75-$1.00/kg to central and USA East Coast destinations. We are not expecting much give going into the holiday and most should brace for further increases.

A Sustainable Airfreight Future: The pandemic has given the airline industry an opportunity to ramp up efforts in producing a cleaner future. Moving into the new year, the unspoken motto is to stop planning and start implementing.

There are a few different approaches towards reducing CO2 emissions – Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), Carbon offsetting programs, and electric energy-based ground operations.

For aircraft transportation, the most promising is SAF but it comes with challenges. The sustainable fuel, a synthetic kerosene made up of biomass, is not yet widely available. Only a small group of carriers have been able to utilize the fuel and only for select flights. Lufthansa flew the first carbon neutral freighter aircraft, a 777, from China to Germany just this past November. Meanwhile, Air France, another leader in supporting the fuel, is enabling customers to invest in the sourcing of SAF and they are planning to build the first ever SAF plant by 2023.

Multiple carriers are also making their carbon imprint more visible for both passengers and cargo. Lufthansa’s online booking portal informs customers of their emissions and offers a way to compensate through Compensaid, a program powered by Lufthansa. Likewise, Qatar Airways provides passengers with the same ability via ClimateCare. Taking it a level higher, the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) has launched The Aviation Carbon Exchange, a centralized marketplace that facilitates the settlement of carbon offset trades.

In addition to the initiatives above, transitioning to 100% electric operated ground equipment will be a focus moving forward. Air France expects to reach net zero ground emissions by 2030.

So, what can you do to support a greener world?

There are many different options to choose from when looking to ship sustainably. Choosing specific flights that use SAF, participating in one of the many carbon offset programs that are available, or by simply shipping more efficiently are just a few. Shipping efficiently includes not only the routing and vehicles involved, but the type of packing that is used as well.

The most important first step – let us know that this is important to you.  By understanding your goals, we can create a solution that keeps in mind both your business needs and your ambitions for sustainability.

For more information, contact