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.


Latest forecasts from IATA suggest that Air Cargo volumes this year will be close to the record year of 2018. However, available capacity currently remains at minus 15 - 20%. As a result, demand is high, capacity needs are large, and rates are on the rise.
SENATOR INTERNATIONAL is expanding frequencies in the "SAB" flight schedule again, from September 2021. Thus, first class service will be offered to customers on a long-term and sustainable basis:

HHN - GSP – HHN  7 flights per week  
HHN I FRA – RFD   3 flights per week
RFD - HHN I FRA    3 flights per week
FRA - MEX – FRA  3 flights per week
FRA - SIN - HHN     1 flight per week
HHN - JNB              3 flights per week

Large consignments are currently gaining more importance in Air Freight. SENATOR INTERNATIONAL is handling additional charter flights worldwide this week and next week (including 3 full charters from Europe to China). Import from China to Europe continues to show extremely high utilization, especially for the transport of test kits.

For export from Europe to USA demand remains very high. SENATOR INTERNATIONAL continues to meet the demand in May 2021 with one additional cargo flight per week to GSP. Import from USA to Europe has also picked up extremely in recent months.


Overall, the consequences of the Suez Canal blockade continue to be clearly felt. This means congestion at many ports and a critical equipment situation. Recently, schedule adherence has dropped to 30-40%, many ships are delayed. Shipowners are taking drastic measures such as port omissions or cut and run to get ships back on schedule. However, it could take another 2-3 months to see significant relief.

Compared to the previous month, equipment availability at hinterland depots or ports has continued to deteriorate. Terminals are using equipment pick-up windows to optimize container flows from depots and yards to the sites. To cope with the transport volume in Hamburg, Truck deliveries are only allowed 48 or 72 hours before the actual arrival of ships, depending on the loading location. 

For export from Europe to Asia, ships remain fully booked even in May/June. Short-term bookings are hardly possible. If they are, then only for premium rates. From May on, rates will be increased by up to 500 USD per container. New record! Accordingly, all rates remain at a high level: no relief in sight before the end of June.

For imports from Asia to Europe the same picture: equipment still in short supply, rates rising. The market situation remains extremely volatile and overheated.

For exports from Europe to North America, Mexico and South America, the situation remains stubbornly tight. Limited space throughout until at least the end of May. Even premium services like CMA CGM Priority Go have limited availability because many ships are overbooked or equipment is missing. In the USA, West Coast ports in particular are still suffering from congestion. On the East Coast, the situation has eased for the time being. The same applies to the South American trade: short-term bookings are only possible at high rates, and empty containers are in short supply.

In Canada, a strike at the Port of Montreal is currently jeopardizing operations. The Montreal Employers Association (MEA) announced a 72-hour general strike at the end of last week. The work stoppage has been ongoing since Monday. It is still unclear how long this will last. Significant delays are likely to result for container traffic between North America and Europe.


The effects of the Suez Canal blockade are not stopping at Rail Freight. Prices for rail shipments from China to Europe have skyrocketed. The price increase reached extreme levels in the last two weeks, according to industry spokesmen. It still remains to be seen how long this effect will last.

Calls for the Chinese government to allow rail transport of lithium-ion batteries are growing louder. Last week, too, many industry operators from the rail transport sector spoke out in favor of the release. Background: the demand for electric vehicles in Europe is booming and more and more e-vehicles and components are being produced in China. Until now, corresponding cargoes from China may only be transported by sea for safety reasons (source: railfreight.com).



Free equipment continues to be scarce in Chinese ports. Due to the few free containers, Forwarders in China are currently under enormous pressure. According to the leasing platform "Container xChange", there are hardly any signs of relief in the near future. Equipment shortages will continue for some time, according to the evaluation of the situation. Average prices for used containers have increased by 94% between November 2020 and March 2021.

Exports by Air Freight are currently picking up significantly. Volumes out of China are increasing from week to week, especially towards the US. Cause: higher yields to the USA attract carriers to the corresponding transpacific routes (source: theloadstar.com).


Rates for Ocean Freight exports remain at a high level - both to Asia and Europe. The good news is that there is a slight improvement in the availability of equipment from China. For trade with Europe containers are still in short supply. SENATOR INTERNATIONAL offers with the LCL Consol Service good options on the sea route from Hamburg to Altamira and Veracruz (Mexico).

By air, the "SAB" SENATOR Atlantic Bridge operates regular self-controlled cargo flights to and from Mexico City (MEX).


Last week, Road Freight traffic from South Africa to neighboring countries experienced delays at several border crossings. Among others, the Botswana route at the important Groblersbrug border station was affected. In the meantime, the traffic jams have been lifted.


Demand is booming for Ocean Freight bound for the U.S., with import volumes on the U.S. West Coast up 57% year-over-year in March 2021 and 38% on the East Coast. West Coast ports continue to be busy. This affects both Los Angeles - Long Beach and Oakland. Congestion outside the ports is sure to continue for some time.

In Air Cargo, rates for U.S. imports are at very high levels. Domestic air cargo volumes were recently up 17% compared to the same period last year. Demand for domestic passenger flights continues to increase, which will also have an impact on air cargo traffic.
Congestion at Chicago O'Hare International Airport has continued to worsen. The reason: a dramatic staffing situation and ground handling delays caused by COVID-19. In response, Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) is being used by an increasing number of logistics companies (source: freightwaves.com). 

SENATOR INTERNATIONAL offers self-controlled cargo flights on the "SAB" SENATOR Atlantic Bridge several times a week between Frankfurt-Hahn (HHN) and RFD as well as Frankfurt International (FRA) and RFD.

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