Ocean  Freight Market Update

Asia → North America (Transpacific Eastbound)

Rates: No increase announced this week, although the market is expecting to hear GRI announcements in early December which would be applicable in the new year. 

Capacity: Remains tight but we are seeing a slight easing heading towards the end of the month if bookings are placed early.   

Equipment: The situation remains tight as Asian exports remain strong to all areas of the globe. 

Notes: Delays in West Coast ports continue to be an issue and spreading to the other regional ports as carriers / shippers look for alternatives.

Asia → Europe (Far East Westbound)

Rates: Into Europe the market remains to increase, reaching levels approaching $6,000. Rates into the UK now being priced on a weekly basis have surpassed the $6,500 level when adding all additional surcharges, and reports of $7,000 FAK are rife in the market. Another rate hike is expected 7th December. 

Capacity: Remains in short supply, several carriers reported to be fully booked for December and those with space are charging premium rates. One more blank sailing is expected before the new year, which will only exacerbate the problem. 

Notes: Carriers continue to place a preference on returning empty equipment over laden containers on the back haul trades.

Other Trade Information: 

Colombo Port:  A backlog of an estimated 50,000 teu is causing chaos in Sri Lanka and across the region, and has serious impacts on Bangladesh imports / exports as Colombo is a major transshipment hub for the region’s feeders. It is reported that vessels are being delayed up to 5 days, as severe restrictions due to Covid have reduced the workforce by up to one-third.  

India continues to suffer from acute container shortages and severely overbooked ships. 

Other News: 

The latest statistics on Shipping Line Rollovers was released this week. It showed that the vast majority of carriers are seeing increasing roll over rates as they struggled to cope with the high demand for space. 

    • MSC – 16.2% to 22.5%
    • MSK – 32.9% to 35.1%
    • HPL – 34.2% to 37.7%
    • ONE – 38.9% to 39.3%
    • COSCO – 23.7% to 26.4%
    • EMC – 25.9% to 31.8% 
    • CMA – 40.6% to 45.8%

Air Freight Market Update


  • Air freight rates have increased sharply this week and the space situation is still at a critical level. 
  • Rates for dense cargo are still available.
  • Traditional peak season before Christmas holiday period.
  • Project shipments surged into the air freight market i.e. Apple, Dell, HP, and other Auto parts shipments etc. They are paying higher rates in order to secure – this is one of the main factors that have caused serious space issues and have had a knock on effect on the market rates.
  • The spreading of 2nd & 3rd wave of COVID-19 resulted in the high demand of PPE related products all over the world and the air freight rates were affected immediately.
  • The problems with the ocean freight market recently has  triggered some EU / UK importers to move from ocean freight to air freight or even air-ocean to make Christmas deadlines.


  • Some US destinations are seeing some backlogs due to recent decreases in passenger flight capacity on some trade lanes.
  • Rates to / from South American destinations continue to rise to a very high level as capacity struggles to meet demand.


  • Air cargo volumes are expected to return to near 2019 levels next year, according to IATA’s latest market forecast. The airline association said that improved business confidence and the important role that air cargo should play in vaccine distribution is expected to see cargo volumes grow. 
  • It also projected that a continued capacity crunch due to the slow reintroduction of belly capacity from passenger services combined with a higher proportion of time and temperature sensitive cargo will see a further 5% increase in yields. This will contribute to strong performance in cargo revenues.
  • Cargo is performing better than the passenger business. It could not, however, make up for the fall in passenger revenue. It has become a significantly larger part of airline revenues and cargo revenues are making it possible for airlines to sustain their skeleton international networks.
  • Rates have increased slightly over recent weeks due to demand and the continued reduction in passenger schedules. Spot rates are still available on certain routes where passenger flights are being operated as cargo flights and also routes that have freighter capacity. Qatar Airways ex UK are fully booked for 7-10 days on many destinations that they serve for example.

European Road Freight Market Update:

Demand for European equipment will continue to increase in the coming weeks due to the Christmas build up and Brexit stock preparations.

The information that is available in the Weekly Market Update comes from a variety of online sources. Click below to learn more about how Zencargo can help make your supply chain your competitive advantage.

Get In Touch