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Airfreight rates rose in February, in the first growth since November, according to Drewry’s East West Airfreight Price Index.

Overall, rates went up 3%, reflecting market analysis that suggests 2018 will be another strong year of demand.

The index recorded rates of $2.84 per kg all in for February, 15% higher than last year.

Drewry Air and Sea Shipper insight said: “This was only the second time in six years the index has increased month-on-month in February, indicative of the underlying strength of the market.

“Drewry expects the index to soften in March, although it should remain above the comparable 2017 level as a result of strong demand.”

The rate rise supports market analysis, as well as anecdotal evidence. Carriers have reported that they see strength of demand continuing and airlines have been scrambling for more freighter capacity.

That, alongside an exponential rise in e-commerce volumes, is likely to ensure that demand stays strong and rates retain some of last year’s strength.

IATA noted that business confidence, a good leading indicator of GDP growth, was rising in both advanced as well as emerging economies. But the survey on export orders has slowed, as has freight tonne km.

It questions whether the current economic cycle – the third longest in recent times – is coming to an end and also expressed concern that the world was seeing a new era of protectionism, which could stall trade.

However, the IMF remains upbeat and the global economy is still seeing strong growth.

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