Ocean Freight Market Update

Asia → North America (Transpacific Eastbound)

Rates: No rate increases, but priority shipment charges are now ranging between $1,500 & $2,000 per Cntr to ensure that there is space and equipment available.  

Capacity: We are now seeing that the tight constraints around space are starting to ease. However, this is at the priority rate.  

Equipment: The equipment situation continues to deteriorate, with acute shortages hitting CMA, and even COSCO is now having shortages in China. 

Ports: The port complex of Los Angeles & Long Beach continues to see long delays, with reports indicating that over 20 vessels were waiting for berths over the weekend.  

Asia → Europe (Far East Westbound)

Rates: Spot rate levels for 2020 shipments from certain areas have hit levels around $13,000 – $15,000. Carriers are reluctant to release the rate levels for early January. However, market indications are that they will exceed $10,000 per 40’.

Capacity: Again carriers are informing customers that space availability is minimal for January cargo. There is certainly no respite in demand as we head towards CNY. 

Equipment: The pockets of equipment availability are reducing, as the shortages have now creeped up from SPRC, with Ningbo the latest to advise a shortage. Shanghai and NPRC ports although depleted still have equipment.

Air Freight Market Update


  • There are some signals that the rate to the UK and EU destinations is beginning to drop slightly and more and more spot rates are available.
  • Options to the UK will be more air to air and not via air to truck service through European destinations due to the impact of Brexit.
  • Rates to the US are still at a high level due to flight cancellations.


  • Over the last week the US has experienced increasing pressure on space particularly into South America and North East Asia, resulting in a 5 – 10 day backlog and many carriers are now not accepting bookings at the moment.
  • Volumes are impacting service, such as missed pick-ups, and how the lack of capacity with high demand is impacting pricing. Strong U.S. imports and rising industrial freight demand are driving less-than-truckload (LTL) freight volumes higher, as the pre-holiday peak freight shipping season approaches its crest. 
  • Many shippers are breaking down full truckloads into large less than truckload shipments, overwhelming the LTL market capacity. The lack of vehicle availability in the US LTL market is causing a major impact on the air freight market for collections and deliveries, which is also causing backlogs at airline handling agents.


  • With the announcement that many areas of the UK have effectively gone back in to lockdown we have begun to see flights being cancelled especially airlines like AF/KLM who also offer a road freight option via AMS and CDG. This has been compounded by the French government putting a block on vehicles entering France for 48 hours
  • Countries around the world have been banning commercial passenger flights from the UK, with French rules also affecting cross channel freight, due to a new Covid-19 variant. At the time of writing, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Bulgaria, Turkey, Austria, Switzerland, Canada and Hong Kong have all temporarily banned UK passenger flights, which will have an impact on bellyhold capacity.
  • Space on some airlines is fully booked and BA have actually asked agents to try and build freight on / in ULD’s where possible to help with congestion for import and export cargo at their Heathrow facility. This will enable customers to be able to build and break cargo and ease the pressure on the handling of cargo.

UK and European Road Freight Market Update

  • As of Monday 21st, December France has imposed a ban on all accompanied freight between the UK and France for a period of 48 hours. This move is likely to put significant strain on the already strained road transport market. Drivers will not be permitted to travel from the UK-France and European drivers are unlikely to want to travel to the UK for fear of not being permitted to return home.
  • As Brexit negotiations continue, there has been a rush on the market for last minute bookings to enable companies to stockpile and/or position cargo before January 1st. European trailer supply has been significantly depleted, and prices have increased substantially as companies outbid one another to secure bookings.

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