Ocean Freight Market Update

Asia → North America (Transpacific Eastbound)

Rates: The Transpacific base rates have remained stable since September. However, a premium continues to be applied if you require equipment and a firm sailing date. This is in the region of $1200-$2000 per unit.     

Capacity: There is still a shortage of space, but it can be found if flexible. 

Equipment: Equipment remains the headache for almost all carriers and it is the reason that space constraints are not as serious as before. Carriers simply don’t have the boxes the demand requires.   

Ports: Delays at the West Coast Port of LA are increasing, with over 30 vessels reported to be at anchor awaiting berths. In some cases, this is adding an additional 6 days to the expected cargo clearance. 

Asia → Europe (Far East Westbound)

Rates: Base rate levels have remained stable in the 2nd week of January. However, the demand for equipment has meant premiums are being applied to guarantee boxes. 

Capacity: We experienced some port omissions as vessels passed through China last week, and we expect a few more last minute omissions in the weeks to come. There are no wholesale blank sailings yet, with carriers preferring to slide vessels in order to catch up.

Equipment: Acute shortages are being encountered in Southeast Asia, with Vietnam being hit badly. China continues to struggle for equipment. Northern ports are not as badly affected, with Xiamen & Ningbo bearing the brunt of the shortage this week.

Air Freight Market Update


  • US market the overall market trend tends to be slack and reasonable. We can see rates decreasing from various Chinese origins, and this will continue up until maybe 7-10 days before the CNY when we will see a small peak before and for maybe 2 weeks after. We would then expect to see the rates return to levels that are somewhere near normal or just above for the time of year.
  • EU market (FRA/AMS/LUX etc) – the airfreight market has eased again, and rates have become a little more reasonable after a crazy 2020. Overall, the EU market is seeing the same trend as the US market. We have seen the rate decrease from various Chinese origins, and some very good spot rates are also becoming more available in the market, especially for dense cargo. The space situation is also much better now.
  • UK market – the market also began to see some rate decrease. The impact of the lockdown caused by COVID 19 still exists, and flight capacity is still being affected by the restrictions that have been put in place due to the high infection rates that have returned to the UK.


  • Shippers who have been under pressure to find capacity in a tight market are getting some respite, with a fleet of Boeing 777 freighters entering commercial service. Qatar Airways and China Airlines are the latest carriers to add the 777 freighter to their cargo fleets as part of expansion plans in 2021.
  • The extra planes enter the market at a time when air cargo capacity is a quarter less than last year. Meanwhile, there is continued demand to move e-commerce orders, perishable foods, and new COVID-19 vaccines. Constricted cargo capacity has made it difficult for shippers to book shipments easily and is several times more costly than a year ago.
  • In mid-December, China Airlines received its first 777 freighter from Boeing, with plans to operate it on the Taipei-North America route as part of a planned 15% expansion in cargo capacity this year. China Airlines, which operates 18 Boeing 747-400 freighters, has five more 777s in cargo configuration on order.


  • Lufthansa Cargo has imposed security charges for all cargo departing the UK on road feeder services (RFS)  for onward flights out of its European hubs. Following Brexit, EU law no longer recognises trucked cargo from the UK as secure, and requires such goods to undergo rescreening before onward flights. Lufthansa told customers their cargo departing the UK via RFS would be subject to ‘security charges for unknown cargo.’ While Lufthansa appears to be the first carrier to publish details of additional charges, there are expectations that more carriers will.

European Road Freight Market Update


  • Current: Freight prices are fairly stable, but the cost of customs processes is increasing overall rates

  • Compared to last week: Up

  • RAG status: Amber


  • Current: Customs processes in the UK and Europe are slowing the overall transport journey as shippers, consignees, and suppliers come to terms with new procedures.

  • Compared to last week: Unchanged

  • RAG status: Amber

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