The air cargo sector is experiencing a robust start to 2024, buoyed by a surge in e-commerce and the ongoing disruptions in other transport channels. Notably, the global air cargo tonnage saw a significant uplift in April, marking a 3% rise from mid to late April, as reported by WorldACD. This rebound comes after a period of relative lull influenced by various global holidays, showcasing the dynamic nature of the air cargo market.

Notably, the boost in volume from Central and South America, mainly due to increased shipments of flowers in anticipation of Mother’s Day, played a substantial role in this uptick. This seasonal surge has helped offset the slower recovery in markets like the Middle East and South Asia, which still feel the effects of the post-Ramadan period. Despite these fluctuations, the average worldwide rates have remained steady at $2.50 per kg.

The air cargo sector has demonstrated a proactive approach in the face of maritime challenges, such as the recent disruptions in the Red Sea. It has strategically shifted towards more secure and reliable shipping options, showcasing its adaptability. This strategic planning and adaptability have led to an increased use of air cargo, particularly from key hubs in Asia to markets across Europe and North America. This ensures supply chain continuity and instills confidence in the sector’s operations.

Looking ahead into the latter quarters of 2024, the industry is not just anticipating a robust peak season but actively driving towards it. Shippers and forwarders are securing capacity in advance, and a noticeable shift towards shorter-term contracts allows for more flexibility in rate negotiations. This trend directly answers the unpredictable market conditions driven by geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainties.

Furthermore, legislative changes in the United States concerning e-commerce shipments could introduce new challenges to the air cargo sector. Proposed adjustments to de minimis regulations, which currently facilitate the tax-free import of low-value goods, could reshape the landscape of international commerce, affecting everything from pricing strategies to operational logistics. The proposed adjustments, which seek to lower the $800 threshold to a significantly reduced amount, could have substantial implications on the air cargo sector, potentially leading to increased customs checks, longer processing times, and elevated operational costs, thereby impacting the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of air freight for e-commerce.


  • Modal Shift: Consider shifting from ocean to air freight for critical shipments due to reduced cost gaps.
  • Capacity Planning: Secure air cargo capacity in advance to manage high demand periods.
  • Regulatory Awareness: Stay informed about regulatory changes that might impact air freight demand and pricing.
  • Diversify Routes: Utilize various air freight routes to avoid bottlenecks and maintain timely deliveries.


The European road freight sector faces pivotal changes with the proposed Weights and Dimensions Directive (WDD) from the Greening Freight Package, which suggests increasing the permissible truck weight on European roads from 40 tonnes to 44 tonnes. This legislative proposal has stirred significant controversy, particularly in France, where there is substantial concern about its potential impact on intermodal transport involving barge and rail freight.

Opponents argue that allowing heavier trucks could detract from the effectiveness of barge and rail freight across Europe. Critics believe that while there may be some logistical advantages in increasing truck tonnage for short, last-mile transports—such as moving goods from ports to nearby inland hubs—the overall negatives outweigh these benefits. They cite potential matters such as accelerated road infrastructure deterioration and increased congestion, which could lead to higher maintenance costs and environmental impacts.

The environmental considerations of this directive are significant, especially when Europe is pushing for greener transport options like rail and river. The shift towards larger trucks comes as the industry faces ongoing challenges with the reliability of Europe’s inland waterways. Key terminals like those in Antwerp and Rotterdam experience frequent congestion, sometimes lasting days.

While potentially beneficial in tightly controlled scenarios, the proposed increase to 44-tonne trucks raises broad concerns. Many fear that the change could hinder the wider goals of creating more fluid and efficient European supply chains without a responsible and strategic approach to its implementation. The debate highlights a critical need for greater cooperation and data sharing among transport stakeholders to enhance intermodal synergies and ensure that any increase in truck tonnage aligns with sustainable logistical practices.


  • Intermodal Synergies: Promote greater cooperation and data sharing to enhance intermodal transport efficiency.
  • Environmental Considerations: Balance the use of heavier trucks with environmental sustainability goals.
  • Strategic Planning: Prepare for potential changes in truck weight regulations and their impact on logistics planning.
  • Monitor Legislation: Stay updated on legislative developments to anticipate and adapt to regulatory changes.


Despite the significant flux in the European sea freight industry, it is a testament to its resilience. The industry is undergoing shifts characterized by tightened capacities and unexpected demand spikes on the Asia-Europe routes, reshaping contract and spot market dynamics. However, the industry’s unwavering ability to adapt is reassuring in these turbulent times.

Recent developments in the European import market, such as a restocking phase influenced by a stronger-than-anticipated consumption rate, have led to a 9% growth in European volumes. This trend aligns with the strategic adaptability of carriers like Maersk, who are witnessing rate increments to manage the burgeoning demand. For instance, Maersk’s new peak season surcharge (PSS) is set to triple from $500 per 40ft to $1,500 starting 11 May, reflecting their proactive approach to market dynamics.

Spot rates are also responding dynamically to these market conditions. According to Drewry’s World Container Index, rates on the Shanghai-Rotterdam leg increased by 2% week-on-week to $3,103 per 40ft, and Shanghai-Genoa saw a 3% rise to $3,717 per 40ft. Despite these increases, the tension between long-term contract commitments and higher-yielding spot cargoes is causing some shipments under long-term contracts to be rolled, prioritizing higher-paying spot cargoes.

The Red Sea crisis, a significant event involving a major shipping route, has added complexity to the European trade lanes. Necessitating diversions around the Cape of Good Hope, this crisis has pushed carriers to implement trade disruption surcharges. The industry’s response to these challenges, reflected in the escalation of surcharges and space tightening, underscores the need for strategic planning and adaptability in the face of major disruptions.

While pricing was raised earlier in the month on the transatlantic route, rates have since stabilized. For instance, the New York-Rotterdam return trip remained flat at $2,214 per forty-foot equivalent unit (FEU). However, the first quarter of the year marked a resurgence in volumes on the Europe-US east coast trade, with nearly 900,000 TEU transported, up 6.9% from the same period in 2023.

Amidst these operational challenges, Taiwanese carrier Evergreen and its Ocean Alliance partners are demonstrating their strategic adaptability. They are proactively redeploying ultra-large container vessels from the Far East-North Europe trade to the Mediterranean. In response to capacity reductions due to ongoing geopolitical tensions, this maneuver is increasing the reliance on Mediterranean hubs like Piraeus, showcasing their proactive approach to these challenges.


  • Strategic Adjustments: Consider strategic adjustments and robust planning to manage rate volatility and spot market dynamics.
  • Container Planning: Monitor container availability closely and plan ahead to mitigate shortages.
  • Alternate Routes: Explore alternative shipping routes to avoid congested ports.
  • Contract Flexibility: Negotiate flexible contract terms to adapt to rate fluctuations and delays.


Europe’s rail freight sector is facing significant disruptions due to severe flooding in southern Germany. Persistent heavy rainfall has led to extreme flooding, causing substantial damage and impacting the region’s rail freight operations with a reported “70% failure rate.”

The River Danube’s water level has doubled from three to six meters, worsening the situation. Key rail lines have been severely affected, leading to widespread cancellations and delays. Munich, a major hub, is now inaccessible to long-distance trains from Stuttgart, Würzburg, and Nuremberg. This has caused disruptions on routes, including Munich to Berlin and Stuttgart to Frankfurt.

Rail services, particularly those to and from Munich, have been heavily impacted, forcing operators to reroute services through alternative pathways such as Passau-Wels-Salzburg-Rosenheim or via Basel and Italy. Critical routes like Augsburg-Donauwörth, Munich-Ingolstadt, and Nuremberg-Würzburg are experiencing severe disruptions, affecting combined transport and block trains.

The flooding has also impacted water levels along the Rhine, which have exceeded 8.25 meters in some areas, the highest in over a decade. This has led to stoppages and blockages at various points, particularly around Mannheim and Frankfurt. Intermodal operators are reporting significant challenges, with multiple barges unable to reach their destinations, further complicating logistics and transportation.

The ongoing disruptions in southern Germany and along the Rhine are likely to have a ripple effect on rail operations and supply chains throughout Europe. The unpredictable nature of water levels and the severe impact on key rail routes could lead to prolonged delays, increased operational costs, and challenges in maintaining timely deliveries across the continent. As the situation continues to evolve, European rail freight sector stakeholders must prepare for ongoing disruptions and develop contingency plans to mitigate the impact on supply chains.


  • Contingency Planning: Develop robust contingency plans to manage disruptions caused by extreme weather and other unexpected events.
  • Alternative Routes: Identify and utilize alternative rail routes to mitigate the impact of disruptions on primary lines.
  • Real-time Monitoring: Implement real-time monitoring systems for better visibility and response to disruptions.
  • Collaborative Solutions: Work closely with rail operators and other stakeholders to develop collaborative solutions for maintaining supply chain fluidity.



Wiima Logistics is a provider of fourth-party logistics (4PL) services. The 4PL service provides the customer with a complete solution for supply chain management, administration and outsourcing.

4PL operations can be described as outsourcing the management and coordination of the entire supply chain – this allows the customer to focus on their core business.

Wiima staff will be more than happy to advise you in supply chain and logistics related matters. Our logistics experts and digital tools will provide you with a winning combination if you are looking for an effective and efficient logistics management setup.

We are looking forward to hearing from you!