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Market review; 25th April

The UK and Euro area economies moved back into expansion territory at the end of the first quarter, with manufacturing growing for a third successive month and new orders (PMI) accelerating to seven-month highs, with 2024 global GDP forecasts revised up from 2.3% to 2.6%.

Iran’s seizure of the15,000 teu MSC Aries in international waters off the Gulf of Oman means the ‘maritime danger zone’ has expanded significantly from the Red Sea and the ramifications could be massive, possibly providing a catalyst for freight rates to rise in the short-term.

Global air cargo demand remained solid in March, however, rates are soft in certain regions compared to last year’s levels, while Middle East and South Asia have seen significant increases.


After a tumultuous few weeks in the wake of the Red Sea crisis, some form of stability is returning, with the round-Africa routings now normalising and global schedule reliability climbing above 53%.

Carriers adjusted rates and applied blank sailings at the start of the month, which seem to have had an effect with vessels full.

Rate increases are expected for April departures, but carriers are withdrawing some blanked sailings and GRI traction may not be assured.

• Increased COGH transit times the “new norm”
• Rates continue to soften post CNY
• Post-CNY blank sailing programme
• Space currently open on most vessels


Global air cargo demand rose for a third consecutive month in March, climbing to 11% year on year, driven in large part by eCommerce volumes and continuing Red Sea shipping disruption.

Air cargo demand remains high from Bangkok to Europe, boosted by road-air volumes trucked down from Vietnam and other regions impacted by Middle East conflicts, with space really critical ex-Indian to the US and Europe.

Ex-Asia constraints due to an exceptionally high surge in eCommerce volumes from southern China is leading some shippers to use alternative hubs.

• Volumes returning to typical levels after strong pre-Chinese New Year
• PMI index rose for the fourth consecutive month
• Global cargo capacity up 9% YoY
• Ex-Asia capacity constraints


Capacity decreased for the second month, though this fall will have been skewed by carriers downsizing fleets, which means less capacity than previous years.

Demand for cargo space in Q1 2024 was higher than Q1 2023, with a ratio of freight to cargo space of 72:28 in March, which is way above the previous year’s figure of virtual parity; 49:51.

With transport prices still soft carriers are seeing reduced profits, which means less motivation to invest and could lead to capacity challenges.

• Diesel prices rise in Feb and March
• Haulier prices rise substantially
• Capacity index falls for the first time in 19 months
• Rates predicted to increase later in year

We continuously monitor the evolving logistics environment, to share breaking news and developments, so that you can make the informed decisions that will protect your supply chain.

To discuss any of the issues highlighted here, or to discover the value that PSP Worldwide would bring to your supply chain, please EMAIL our managing director, Colin Redman.