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The quiet holiday period saw airlines clear up freight backlogs that had built up over an unusually busy end to the year – and now the air freight market is starting to warm up again, say forwarders.

However, there were reports of cancelled scheduled operations over the holiday, which is likely to have led to rates staying firm, particularly to and from the US.

Web-quotation platform Freightos cited cancellations between December 22 and December 31, to Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas. It said “most US airlines” cancelled seven to 10 flights, while AirBridgeCargo and China Southern also cut services.

“Given that cargo space on this route is still quite tight, these cancellations are pushing rates back up,” Freightos said at the end of December.

It added that poor weather in Europe had also contributed to higher rates, which could remain at reasonably strong levels up to Chinese new year, which falls on February 16.

2017 looks set to be a record year for air freight, giving carriers some confidence going into 2018. WorldACD reported that November’s figures set new record volumes, breaking October’s peak by 1.3%. Year-on-year, November volumes rose 7.8%, while revenues were up 26%.

In the larger markets, Asia Pacific to North America saw volume rises of 11.5%, Europe to Middle East & South Asia (MESA) grew 11.3%, while the other direction rose 21.1%. Of the smaller markets, WorldACD saw 12.2% growth from Central and South America to Europe; North America to MESA went up 19.5%, and MESA to Africa grew 20.1%

Yield increases for the third consecutive month hit double digits, with Europe seeing the highest increases. From Europe, year-on-year yields rose nearly 19% in euros – this broke down into a jump of 28% to North America and 25% to Central and South America.

WorldACD has published its air cargo market data for November here.

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