Regular information on current developments

What is currently shaping the air freight market? What about sea freight? What about the rail connection with China? Read more.


Demand remains high to and from North America. SENATOR INTERNATIONAL offers additional frequencies again. Flights to Asia are also full. Almost a tradition: as a result of the Chinese New Year, exports from Europe to China have to contend with capacity bottlenecks and high rates. Imports from China to Europe have not yet picked up as much after the Chinese New Year. The targets of the Chinese government and the high utilization in ocean freight suggest that the market will come under strong pressure again. Demand for our connection to South Africa ("SAB" SENATOR Africa Bridge) is picking up again.

At the major European airports, the situation for ground handling remains tense. In Frankfurt (FRA), the backlog was cleared last week. However, the situation remains volatile: in general, delays should still be expected, also due to the high import demand for personal protective equipment (PPE).
On the "SAB" SENATOR Atlantic Bridge, the frequency to Mexico City (MEX) will increase from calendar week 11. From March 15th, 2021, three flights per week will operate regularly between FRA and MEX.


The market situation remains critical. Ships are fully booked for exports from Europe to Asia until the end of March. Shipowners are charging surcharges. Equipment remains in short supply, and in many places free containers are only available at extra cost. What has long applied to imports is now being implemented by some shipping companies for exports as well: space quotas. No easing of rates is expected before the end of June.

For Myanmar, after Hapag Lloyd and Hyundai, further providers could temporarily suspend services as long as the political situation in the country remains tense. The port of Karachi/Port Qasim (Pakistan) is now also experiencing delays. Due to route changes of many ships, backlogs and heavy cargo, a waiting time of 4 to 6 days must currently be calculated.

For imports from Asia to Europe, the rate and equipment situation has not yet changed significantly compared to the beginning of the year. High demand is leading to a shortage of empty containers at the main ports. Gradually, the situation in China's transshipment hubs should ease a little by the end of April.

The situation in many European ports remains critical, including Hamburg. Significant delays may occur for both inbound and outbound shipments. In the short term, export containers may currently be delivered to terminals by truck at the earliest 48 hours before ship departure. This time window is not based on planned but on real ship arrivals. Places for temporary storage around the port of Hamburg are also full. Binding cost commitments are hardly possible. Additional costs are to be expected.

For exports from Europe to North America and Mexico, ships are fully booked until the beginning of April. The space situation is very critical and there are no signs of easing. The only possibility to get an earlier booking is to book a priority service with CMA CGM, Hapag Lloyd or Hamburg Süd.

Massive backlogs are occurring in many US ports. Causes are manifold: lack of equipment, consequences of a snowstorm as well as persistent trucker shortage. In Canada, Montreal Gateway Partnership, the largest container terminal operator in the Port of Montreal, is informing about the risk of a major strike. This may herald a period of significant delays for the port there. It is still unclear whether the disputing parties will reach an agreement.

For the trade to South America, the situation remains unchanged. Volumes are very high and there are no signs of any easing.


Kazakhstan is temporarily suspending truck traffic on its border with China to allow existing capacity to be used for rail freight. The ban on trucks took effect on March 1st, 2021, and will remain in effect for one month. It applies to the Alashankou-Dostyk border crossing, the most important border post on the New Silk Road. Background: Since the beginning of the Corona crisis, there has been a considerable backlog of freight at the Kazakh-Chinese border. Many freight trains have been stranded at the border crossing for some time. This causes waiting times and follow-up costs (source: railfreight.com).



In general, the situation for exports to Brazil is coming to a head. Rates for air and ocean freight continue to rise. By sea, costs for shipments from Asia are at record levels due to global demand and congestion at Chinese ports. Exports should be planned as far in advance as possible. On import routes from Brazil, lack of reefer containers is causing significant delays. It will probably take until April before sufficient equipment from the northern hemisphere is again shipped to Brazil and available there.


On March 4th, 2021, the once-a-year annual meeting of the National People's Congress began in Beijing. As a result, delays and restrictions are expected this week for the movement of goods to and from Beijing. Measures taken include a ban on the transport of dangerous goods and tighter security checks for truck traffic and at airports in the Beijing region.


Cargo business at Chicago-Rockford Airport (RFD) is picking up significantly. The airport increased cargo throughput by 15% last year to a record 1.2 million tons of cargo weight. In 2021, it will continue to expand its infrastructure. SENATOR INTERNATIONAL will use a significant portion of the new space.
Business has been so brisk that airport officials have moved from planning an original 8,400-square-foot facility to now building an international cargo center with nearly 18,000 square feet of storage space. The Illinois airport has more than tripled cargo tonnage in five years (source: freightwaves.com).

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