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Air freight demand rising: DHL report

Air freight demand rising: DHL report
Air freight demand rising: DHL report

DHL says there has been a soaring demand for air freight recently. Probably not surprising at all is that it’s driven mainly by the “explosive growth of e-commerce.” Customers increasingly turn to online shopping, and businesses face mounting pressure to deliver goods faster and more efficiently. 

But how does a company keep up when the game’s rules constantly change? Streamlining shipping processes and partnering with reliable logistic providers are non-negotiable to stay head above water. This gives companies a competitive edge in the fast-paced world of online retail. 

Why does this matter? The report showcases the relentless growth of online shopping. It’s driven mainly by a need for faster and more efficient deliveries. Air freight is becoming a crucial component of the supply chain. Businesses, especially in the e-commerce sector, must prioritize their logistics to continue to meet customers’ evolving demands. 

DHL report key findings

For DHL, global air cargo demand remained solid for March 2024, with “volumes returning to typical levels.” The German logistics company has attributed this to the “Chinese New Year surge in January.”

Logistics and supply chain sectors face many challenges due to geopolitical tensions, and external factors can disrupt supply chains and lead to delays in delivery. DHL’s Asia-Europe sea-air hubs recorded a “strong demand” due to the “modal shift from sea to air and sea/air caused by the Middle East crisis. 

Global air cargo capacity has increased 9% year-on-year compared to last year. “Capacity constraints due to exceptionally high surge in e-commerce volume outbound Asia led shippers to use alternative hubs,” reports DHL.

Global challenges create pitfalls

In an interconnected work, global events significantly impact air freight operations. Think of the Red Sea crises or, even more recently, the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore. The channel in Baltimore will only be operational by the end of May, leaving many companies scrambling to make alternative transport plans. Owners must always have a robust contingency plan to minimize these risks and disruption of operations. This is where flexibility and adaptability are critical to a company’s survival. 

Natural disasters can not be ignored, from heatwaves to storms. DHL says carrier strikes and heatwaves in Mexico are “causing capacity constraints, impacting Aeromexico, British, Air France and Latam.”

Although freight demand is rising, the Red Sea disruption “continues to impact airfreight capacity and demand,” says DHL. The Russia/Ukraine sanctions are “likely to remain active for the foreseeable future.”

What to expect in April? 

While the conflict in the Red Sea escalated recently, DHL anticipates that “sea-air service demand [will] remain high.” Looking at the Middle East conflicts, while there is a “potential escalation to other regions likely to persist,” there could be some impact on air traffic activity shortly. 

DHL believes with the rising e-commerce demand in April due to Easter, rates are expected to go up. However, it also warns that the Suez Canal crisis is “likely to keep rates elevated on the Asia-Europe route” and may rise even further. 

While the “growing impact of e-commerce demand on the air-cargo market” is expected to continue, it “may ease during the slower summer season.” 

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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