Figures and Trends of airfreight development

The latest forecasts from the market researchers at Seabury show that the balance of US-American airfreight exports is taking a dramatic shift towards China as the principal recipient of goods from the United States. 

Compared to 2008, China took a giant leap forward in 2013, increasing its imports by a massive 36.4 percent and establishing itself as the largest target market. With a total import volume of 382,031 tonnes of airfreight per year from the USA, China is now well ahead of second-placed Japan, which imported 241,737 tonnes from the USA in 2013, overtaking the United Kingdom in the process.

Airfreight exports from the United States into the European region have declined sharply: Whereas figures for the United Kingdom dropped by 12.3 percent, tonnage into France decreased by 11.6 percent. As far as the top ten nations go, US airfreight exports suffered by far the biggest downturn with respect to Germany, where tonnage is now one-fifth less than in 2008. Apart from China, other countries that imported significantly higher volumes of tonnage from the USA as compared to 2008 include South Korea (plus 21.0 percent), Singapore (plus 8.6 percent), and Australia (plus 7.8 percent).

On the whole and in a global comparison, the top ten nations in the United States’ 2013 airfreight export balance sheet imported a below-average 1.4 percent of tonnage (1.878 million tonnes) from the USA as compared to 2008. However, forecasters predict an increase by 14.3 percent to 2.156 million tonnes until 2018. In addition, the prognosis for 2018 anticipates China experiencing a further surge of 36.8 percent in airfreight imports from the USA. The experts at Seabury also see Brazil (plus 38.9) and South Korea (plus 23.7) playing a much more prominent role by 2018, while European markets will stabilize at current levels.

In 2008 and 2013, the top three exporting nations of airfreight to the USA were China, Germany, and Japan. This trend is expected to continue through 2018, as evidenced in forecasts published by Seabury. Nevertheless, there is strong movement in the markets. In 2013, China as the source market for US airfreight imports continued to set the benchmark with 1.077 million tonnes. This figure represents an increase of 25.7 percent compared to 2008. Germany remained stable at 302,633 tonnes (plus 0.91 percent), whereas Japan’s figures nosedived by 26.16 percent compared to 2008.

Even the European trio, which ranked just behind Japan in 2008, has now suffered severe setbacks: Italy lost 10.0 percent, the United Kingdom fell by 18.5 percent, while France has seen a drop of 25.8 percent. The South American nations on the other hand are clearly on the upswing: Colombia with 164,649 tonnes (plus 22.9 percent) and Chile with 164,518 tonnes (plus 38.3 percent) have edged into fourth and fifth place respectively. For the first time, Peru (plus 37.1 percent) has made it to the list of top 10 nations.

The total tonnage of US airfreight imports increased by 8.14 percent between 2008 and 2013 and now amounts to 2.488 million tonnes. Analysts at Seabury predict a further rise of 13.4 percent to 2.822 million tonnes by the year 2018.