Recently, key Asia-Europe sea-air hubs, including Dubai, Colombo, and Bangkok, have experienced a remarkable surge in air cargo volumes. This trend is primarily driven by shippers seeking alternatives to the container shipping disruptions caused by maritime security concerns in the Red Sea. The demand to replenish European inventories, impacted by the prolonged voyages of container ships navigating around the Cape of Good Hope, has significantly contributed to this shift from Sea to Air.

Year-on-year data for the first seven weeks of 2024 reveals a substantial increase in air cargo tonnages to Europe, with Dubai reporting a 71% rise, Colombo at 61%, and Bangkok at 58%. This growth substantially surpasses that observed in other hubs like Singapore and Doha, marking a notable redirection of freight routes due to current global shipping challenges.

The timing of the Lunar New Year (LNY) in 2024 presents additional complexities for direct week-by-week comparisons, yet it emphasizes a consistent pattern of increased tonnages from these hubs to Europe. However, the resulting impact on air cargo pricing remains uncertain amidst a backdrop of overall market-wide declines from the preceding year.

Following the LNY, a customary dip in demand from the Asia Pacific region impacts global air cargo tonnages and rates. Despite this seasonal fluctuation, there’s a discernible structural improvement in demand compared to the previous year. This is particularly evident in regions like the Middle East & South Asia, where both tonnage and rates have increased, likely reflecting a strategic pivot from ocean freight to integrated sea-air solutions.

Despite a minor year-on-year decrease in tonnages for weeks 6 and 7 of 2024, the global air cargo sector showcases structural improvements in demand levels. Air cargo capacity has seen an uptick, especially from the Asia Pacific and Middle East & South Asia regions. This indicates a strong recovery and ongoing adaptation within the air cargo industry to the logistical challenges posed by the current global supply chain disruptions.


  • Explore Sea-Air Options: Given the surge in air cargo volumes and the redirection of freight routes, companies should consider leveraging sea-air logistics solutions to optimize transit times and costs, especially for urgent or high-value shipments.
  • Monitor Capacity and Rates: Stay informed about air cargo capacity and rate fluctuations to strategically book shipments and negotiate better rates. Companies might benefit from flexible shipping schedules and open to dynamic routing options to navigate the uncertain pricing landscape.
  • Diversify Supply Chains: Enhance resilience by diversifying supply chain routes and partners to mitigate risks associated with specific hubs or regions affected by disruptions.


The sea freight sector continues to grapple with unprecedented challenges and complex disruptions. While experiencing a slight decline this week, the transpacific container spot rates remain significantly elevated compared to last year’s figures. This trend highlights ocean carriers’ optimism about securing substantial annual contract rate increases, setting the stage for intense negotiations at the upcoming S&P Global TPM24 conference in Long Beach, California.

Recent statistics from Xeneta indicate a 3% reduction in the Asia-US west coast average rate, positioning it at $4,619 per 40ft, a stark contrast to the $1,316 noted in the same period in 2023. This rate, already affected by the repercussions of the Red Sea crisis, had escalated from $1,593 per 40ft in December before the crisis unfolded. The US East Coast, significantly impacted by Panama Canal restrictions and the detours around the Cape of Good Hope, saw Drewry’s WCI Asia to US East Coast spot rate decreased by 3% to $5,820 per 40ft, yet a 110% hike year-on-year.

The ongoing crisis in the Red Sea, exacerbated by Houthi attacks on merchant ships, has diverted over $80 billion in cargo, necessitating extensive logistical efforts to ensure timely deliveries. This event, coupled with the annual disruptions caused by the Lunar New Year and the unprecedented drought affecting the Panama Canal, highlights the fragility and interconnectivity of global supply chains. With the canal’s capacity cut by a third due to drought and the looming threat of a strike by the US International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), the supply chain faces a multifaceted web of risks and challenges in 2024.

Xeneta’s long-term rate index recorded its most significant surge in 18 months, driven by carriers exercising force majeure clauses to impose surcharges for Red Sea diversions. This move signals a challenging negotiation landscape at TPM, with carriers and Beneficial Cargo Owners (BCOs) likely to take a stand-off over rate adjustments. The need for flexibility in new agreements is evident, with suggestions for review clauses after three months to mitigate risks associated with the Red Sea disruption’s end.

On the Asia-Europe trade lane, spot rates are gradually decreasing, with the XSI Asia-North Europe average rate dipping by 1% to $4,262 per 40ft compared to $1,316 a year ago. The Asia-Mediterranean route sees a quicker rate decline, influenced by carriers opting for hub & spoke relay operations. The Ningbo Containerized Freight Index (NCFI) reports that many Chinese factories have not yet resumed total production post-Chinese New Year, leading to decreased booking levels and enforced rate discounts by carriers.

As sea freight navigates through these turbulent times, the interplay of geopolitical tensions, environmental challenges, and labor disputes stresses the need for robust, flexible, and innovative supply chain solutions such as reliable 4PL partners like WIIMA.



  • Engage in Early Contract Negotiations: With the anticipation of significant annual contract rate increases, companies should engage in negotiations with ocean carriers early, presenting detailed volume commitments and seeking mutually beneficial terms.
  • Implement Flexible Contract Terms: Advocate for contracts that include flexibility for rate adjustments and contingency plans, especially concerning the Red Sea crisis and other geopolitical tensions that may affect shipping routes and costs.
  • Optimize Sourcing Strategies: Evaluate and adjust sourcing strategies to mitigate the impact of high freight rates and extended transit times. Exploring nearshoring or diversifying supplier bases can reduce dependency on congested or high-risk maritime routes.


European companies are actively diversifying their sourcing strategies in light of recent global supply chain disruptions, with over 64% making significant changes to their material sourcing. This shift has spotlighted new markets closer to home, notably Morocco, which is emerging as a favored sourcing destination despite accounting for just 1% of the EU’s total trade. This interest has notably spurred double-digit growth in truck transportation from Morocco to Spain, increasing demand for this route.

To support this route’s expansion, efforts have been made to harness synergies within the existing network to introduce essential solutions. The newly launched Morocco Bridge solution exemplifies such an initiative, offering a multimodal service that seamlessly connects Morocco with Spain and, by extension, the broader European market. This innovative solution integrates rail and truck transport within Morocco, complemented by a thrice-weekly ocean shuttle from Tangier to Algeciras, and further connects through multimodal means deep into the continent.

Meanwhile, Belgium is experiencing disruptions in inland transportation, particularly around Antwerp, due to farmer protests. These road blockages have precipitated congestion, leading to a noticeable dip in trucks reaching the terminals. Similar challenges can be observed in the neighbouring countries as well.

The nationwide political strike announced by the Transport Workers’ Union, AKT, is currently impacting all port operations in Finland, including crucial activities like unloading, loading, receipt, and release of units. This situation has led to notable disruptions in supply chains and logistics operations relying on Finnish ports. As of now, no resolution between the conflicting parties appears to have been reached, further complicating the scenario for businesses and logistics operations.

In light of these disruptions, customers should consider potential delays when planning their inland transportation needs. Our team remains vigilant, closely monitoring the situation to provide timely updates and guidance to customers navigating these challenges.


  • Leverage Emerging Markets: With Morocco emerging as a strategic sourcing destination, companies should explore opportunities to integrate Moroccan suppliers into their supply chains, benefiting from the growing truck transportation routes to Europe.
  • Utilize Multimodal Solutions: Consider the Morocco Bridge solution and similar multimodal services to enhance supply chain flexibility and efficiency, connecting with key European markets through seamless integration of rail, truck, and ocean transport.
  • Prepare for Inland Transport Disruptions: Stay informed about potential disruptions in key logistics hubs, such as Belgium, and develop contingency plans, including alternative routes and modes of transport, to minimize impact on delivery schedules and costs.


Rail freight between China, Kazakhstan, and other European and Eurasian regions is experiencing divergent trends. Last year, China-Kazakhstan rail freight volumes surged by 22%, bolstered by significant rail construction projects along the Middle Corridor and an increase in goods transported between China and Europe via Central Asia, totaling approximately 28 million tonnes. This rise in volumes, particularly highlighted by Kazakhstan’s state-owned KTZ Rail’s 86% volume increase in the first half of the year, culminated in over 1 million TEUs moved, partly due to the development of the new Xi’an dry port in Kazakhstan.

However, this growth contrasts starkly with the challenges faced by rail operators in Estonia and Russia. Russian Railways (RZD) grapples with a locomotive shortage exacerbated by wear and tear and difficulties procuring spare parts due to sanctions affecting imports. Reports from the latter part of the year indicated a “particularly worsened” situation, with operational fleet percentages dropping below the required threshold to maintain standard service flows. Consequently, freight rates for China-Russia and China-Belarus routes have escalated sharply, with quotes exceeding $5,100 per 40ft and reaching beyond $6,000 in some instances.

Similarly, Estonian rail services have encountered significant volume declines, with Eesti Raudtee witnessing a 43% plummet in freight volumes over the past year, underscoring the broader impact of sanctions on rail freight operations across the region.


  • Capitalize on Middle Corridor Opportunities: With the growth in China-Kazakhstan-Europe rail freight, companies should consider this route for diversifying their transport strategies, especially for goods that are less sensitive to longer transit times compared to air freight.
  • Assess Alternative Routes and Partners: Due to operational challenges in Russia and Estonia, look for alternative rail routes and reliable partners that can navigate the complexities of sanctions and logistical constraints.
  • Monitor Developments and Plan Accordingly: Keep abreast of infrastructure and service developments along key rail corridors to strategically plan shipments and avoid potential bottlenecks.



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!