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WorldACD Report Reveals Surge in Sea-Air Transport Growth


an airplane flying over cargo containers.

What is Sea-Air Transport?

Sea-air is a multimodal form of transport which allows you to utilise both sea freight and air freight to help deliver your goods. Transporting by sea can be very cheap for shippers, however with sea freight you sacrifice the element of speed and cargo can take a long time to arrive. On the other hand, air freight allows you to move cargo quickly and transport it to the required destination in no time, but it can also be very costly. By utilising a multi modal transport system like sea-air, you get the benefits of low cost ocean transport, while also having the advantage of high speed air transport.

WorldACD Figures and Data

The latest weekly report from WorldACD, has shown a significant increase in volumes at sea-air hubs due to the ongoing situation in the Red Sea. Over the first seven weeks of the year, figures show that Dubai, Bangkok and Colombo all saw their respective tonnages to Europe rise by more than 50% year on year.

Dubai-Europe saw a traffic increase of 71% year on year, Colombo-Europe tonnages increased 61% and Bangkok-Europe had increases of upwards of 58%. While other sea-air hubs also recorded increased volumes in the first seven weeks, they were no way near to the extent of these figures shown above, with Singapore-Europe having an increase of 10% and Doha-Europe having a marginal increase of just 3% respectively year on year. Handlers in both Bangkok and Dubai have been forced to implement a temporary embargo due to significant rise in demand, which they have struggled to cope with.

Bar Chart Showing sea-air hubs volume increases in 2024

WorldACD expressed uncertainty regarding the future demand for sea-air transport, noting the complexity of predicting trends due to factors like the Lunar New Year (LNY) and the general decline in pricing from the previous year. The report suggests that while demand spikes associated with LNY are common, it’s uncertain if the elevated demand for sea-air solutions will persist after the holiday period.

Lunar New Year Impact

Post-LNY, volumes from Bangkok, Dubai, and Colombo remain high, although a decline is anticipated as the market adjusts post-holiday. Notably, during the seventh week of February (12th to 18th), Dubai-Europe volumes nearly tripled year-on-year, while Colombo and Bangkok also reported significant increases.

Despite the high volumes in specific corridors, the overall market seems to be slowing down. WorldACD’s data indicates a 10% decrease in exports from the Asia Pacific in week seven compared to week six, with global volumes also decreasing by 10% in the last week compared to the previous seven days. This suggests that the sea-air transport market is facing a period of adjustment following the LNY holiday.

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