Ocean Freight Market Update

Asia → North America (Transpacific Eastbound)

Rates: Rates have not changed since last week. At the moment only the rate increases from Hapag have been announced from 1st of March (usd960/20’ and usd1200/40’). Next week we will see the release of March tariffs by the carriers, which will help to understand if any other shipping lines will apply increases.

Capacity: We have seen an increase in blank sailings from last week. Now 10.5% (27 blank sailings) versus 8.4% the previous week according to eeSea.  This is still lower than the 26.2% of February 2020. 

Equipment: The situation continues to be difficult in the US. However, we have seen an improvement in container stocks in Asia (Shanghai) according to CAx Container Index (values below 0.5 represent container deficit and above container surplus).

However, the trucker availability is still very reduced in Asia due to the Chinese New Year and is not expected to improve until March.

Ports: No major improvement in the US West Coast ports. It has been reported that over 30 vessels have been waiting at Los Angeles/Long Beach for the past 4 weeks now, with an average waiting time of 8 days to berth and about 306k TEUs stuck onboard. In Oakland the queue is now 10 vessels, and Savannah is 16.

Asia → Europe (Far East Westbound)

Rates: No rate change observed since last week. Waiting for the tariff release for next month, which should cover an expected period of 1 month instead of the past 2 week duration.

Capacity: The revised blank sailings now represent 8.9% of the total sailings compared to 10.5% the previous week. This is therefore 3.5 times fewer blank sailings than February 2020 according to eeSea.

Equipment: Still reported to be a problem with UK ports such as Felixstowe having a restriction on port moves, as highlighted by CAx Container Index.

Air Freight Market Update


US market: Air freight rates have remained at the same levels as the previous week, with some signs of reductions. The market is pretty quiet, as most manufacturers and factories are still on CNY leave. We expect to see some further rate reductions until the CNY period has ended.

EU Market (FRA/AMS/LUX, etc): Like the US market, rates to EU destinations have remained the same as last week, with again some signs of reductions. Most manufacturers and factories are still on CNY leave, and we expect to see some further rate reductions until the CNY period has ended.

UK Market: Rates have remained stable with some slight reductions from some specific origins. Space is available in the market since most of the factories are still on leave. Spot rate is always available in the market, especially for dense cargo.

Local Trucking Service: Domestic trucking service capacity is still limited due to the CNY period, but it will be slowly returning to normal from next week. There won’t be a big impact on air freight shipments since most of the factories are still on leave.


  • US air freight has been hit by a perfect storm in more than one sense. 
  • During the lunar week, a lot of freighter capacity is removed from the market. The US is an inbound driven market, and with few freighters coming in from Asia, there are fewer going back out. There has been heavy snowfall in the North East and Midwest and southern states like Texas have been hit hard. With airports closed and many flight cancelations, a huge backlog has been built up. Not only in the airports but also further back in the logistic chain. A lot of trucking companies are literally digging themselves out, and are currently not accepting bookings for pick-ups. A lot of airlines are not accepting freight until 24 hours before departure putting a strain on the off-airport warehouses.
  • Many airlines and forwarders are hoping that the congestion and chaos at airports across the US and Europe are reaching their peak. There have been reports of delayed or lost cargo, with the most recent complaints concerning Turkish Airlines’ handling facility at New York’s JFK airport. On January 31st, Turkish changed its cargo GHA at JFK to MSN Air Services , and some are saying that the company was not ready to handle the accounts and are overwhelmed. 
  • AirBridgeCargo is also busy, according to Konstantin Vekshin, chief commercial officer of the Volga-Dnepr Group, and they haven’t felt a slowdown following Chinese New Year. When looking at getting the right service level, ABC has been working with their customers who have been affected and are trying to personalise their service to find a solution together. Many have mentioned that one of the biggest problems for handlers and airports is passenger-freighters, as they take longer to load and unload.


  • In January, air cargo demand matched the performance of a year ago. This was the first month not showing a year-on-year decline since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Worldwide load factor was up by 17% year on year, but dropped 2% compared with December. According to WorldACD, the top performers in January were mainly found in the Asia Pacific region, with the area as a whole improved by 12% YoY outgoing and 14% incoming. The US managed to improve its performance as an air cargo origin (+3% YoY). An interesting feature of the North American market was the fact that incoming business from Europe showed the highest YoY rate increase of all major markets: +147%. The product categories that showed the largest volume growth compared with a year ago were express, high tech and general cargo. 

European Road Freight Market Update

Trailer Availability:

  • Groupage continues to have extended lead times across Europe at the moment. Most groupage providers still have a backlog of loads to clear through and customs clearance with these providers is taking longer than expected. Many customs agents are now turning away work since they have a lot to get through. Those who want a groupage service should expect the shipment to take a minimum of a week and potentially 2 weeks to be completed.


  • Some groupage providers were going to provide set rates come February, but many are rejecting to do so until the market becomes more stable


  • From March 1st 2021, a new DVS surcharge will come into effect for vehicles entering London

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.

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