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.


The market situation remains tense. On the routes between Europe and China, capacity utilization remains very high in both directions. SENATOR INTERNATIONAL has therefore successfully handled several charter flights to and from China in recent weeks and increased its Block Space Agreement capacities.

In the direction of South Africa the demand has again increased significantly in the last weeks. The utilization of the "SAB" from Frankfurt-Hahn (HHN) to Johannesburg (JNB) is currently very high.

The demand for exports from Europe to North America continues to remain high. The frequency of the "SAB" route from Frankfurt-Hahn (HHN) to Greenville Spartanburg (GSP) was again increased up to 8 rotations per week in May.
Capacities also remain tight on the transport routes to and from South America.


Basically, the situation remains critical. Free equipment? In short supply. Free places? Scarce. Full ships, high rates. After the Suez Canal blockade, many shipowners still report equipment shortages in ports. Asia and Europe are particularly affected. Even in the major Chinese ports such as Shanghai or Ningbo, the equipment situation is very problematic. The consequence: further rate surcharges (EIS, PSS). 

It can be assumed that at least the entire 2nd quarter will remain similarly tense. The blockade by the M/V Ever Given has further fueled the already difficult situation. Due to the lack of equipment and space, many shipping companies cannot offer a one hundred percent reliable service. Free seats are often only available for top prices.                  
Accordingly, for exports from Europe to Asia, full ships and missing containers continue. The rate misery continues. The market situation leads to further increases in FCL rates and surcharges.

For imports from Asia to Europe, the same picture: space and equipment still scarce, prices currently picking up again. 

For export from Europe to North America, Mexico and South America, new PSS will be announced from June 1st, 2021. Rates remain at a high level. Congestion off major U.S. ports remains. The West Coast - especially Los Angeles-Long Beach with 27 ships currently at anchor and 3 more about to arrive - is more affected than the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. There continues to be a shortage of available trucks and chassis on land.

For all inland trades to/from German seaports, MSC and Hapag Lloyd announced a Congestion Surcharge. Other carriers may follow suit shortly.


In April, the blockade of the Suez Canal gave rail freight between China and Europe another high: high demand, increased rates. According to the U-Freight Group, intermodal services in particular are being requested more and more. Many customers see a big plus in the cost savings compared to Air Freight and the time savings compared to Ocean Freight. 

Rail freight traffic between the Port of Hamburg and Xuzhou in China will be handled with two regular trips per month with immediate effect. According to Hamburg port operators, the service has clearly proven its viability since November 2020. The connection is part of the Xuzhou-Europe Railway Express. Trains on this connection take 18 days to complete the approximately 10,000-kilometer journey (source: railfreight.com).



Dramatic developments in India and the recovery of the U.S. economy are currently boosting China's trade balances. In April 2021, China's exports grew 32.3% year-on-year. This was the tenth consecutive period of export growth. However, observers say comparability is difficult because the global economy was severely constrained by the first major Corona wave in April 2020 (source: scmp.com).


Globally, the Indian subcontinent is currently the hardest hit by COVID-19. Several states are in a full lockdown. This will continue in most regions until at least May 24th, 2021. The situation is having an extreme impact on freight: many importers and exporters are currently operating with a 50% reduced workforce. Therefore, lower volumes and longer waiting times are to be expected on all connections to/from and via India.


For both Air Freight and Ocean Freight to and from Mexico, the following continues to apply: free capacities are scarce, careful planning is required. If possible, bookings should be made approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to the scheduled shipment. Ad-hoc bookings for urgent shipments are not always possible, if then only against high prices. Air freight rates of all airlines still remain in the upper range. Therefore the "SAB" SENATOR Atlantic Bridge from Frankfurt (FRA) to Mexico City (MEX) with 3 flights per week offers a good option.


Road Freight traffic from South Africa to Zimbabwe experienced a long traffic jam at the Beit Bridge border crossing last week. The situation was tense for a short time, but the authorities have since been able to clear the traffic jam. Vehicles have also been jammed for days at the Kazangula Bridge border post into Botswana. Drivers and freight forwarders accuse the state authority SARS (South African Revenue Service) of being ill-prepared in view of the enormous volume of trucks to be handled. There is a lack of foresight in planning and enough staff, they said.


In Air Cargo, Alaska's Anchorage Airport (ANC) has become the fourth busiest cargo airport in the world in 2020, according to the latest statistics. Nearly 3.16 million tons of cargo were handled through ANC, a 15% increase over the previous year. ANC particularly serves as a transshipment hub for cargo traffic between Asia and North/South America (source: aircargoweek.com).

In Ocean Freight, extreme delays continue to be expected as a long-term consequence of the Suez Canal blockade. Currently, the transpacific route is particularly hard hit. Currently, the number of container ships waiting off Los Angeles and Long Beach averages around 20 per day. Experts predict further delays and skyrocketing rates for ocean freight traffic from Asia to North America for the entire month. Trans-Pacific import volumes continue to rise (source: freightwaves.com).

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