The air freight market has been on a rollercoaster ride of late but 2024 could see a return of “classic seasonality,” according to Oslo-based Xeneta, an ocean and air freight rate benchmarking and intelligence platform. “2024 could be an opportunity for shippers to catch their breath after the volatility of the past few years,” says Niall van de Wouw, Chief Airfreight Officer, Xeneta. “The rapid rate decline which started earlier this year has calmed down in recent months. It seems to be the market has a new baseline, from which I expect classic seasonality patterns to emerge.” The industry saw the cost of transporting goods by air skyrocket during Covid-19 before plummeting again during 2023 but they are still 32 percent above pre-pandemic levels, the update added.
The Xeneta Air Freight Outlook 2024 highlights muted consumer spending as a key factor for the year ahead. “Demand for air freight in 2023 remains down by eight percent compared to pre-pandemic and is only predicted to grow by 1-2 percent in 2024. At the same time, supply is expected to grow by 2-4 percent in 2024.”
Van de Wouw says: “The key indicators are not great from a demand point of view. It’s muted and there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world. People and companies are a bit more conscious of how they are spending their money and we will likely not see demand pick up in any meaningful way in 2024. Yes, we will see a return of classic seasonality but it will be muted seasonality.”