Freight Market Update January 2024

January 2024

Monthly Highlights

Impact of The Red Sea Crisis On Ocean Freight Shipping is More Rapid than Covid-19 

Ocean freight rates surged over 200% in the first 52 days of the Red Sea crisis, surpassing early pandemic increases, causing disruptions as carriers struggled to honour contracts.


US Carriers See Cargo Revenues Slide in 2023

Major US airlines experienced cargo revenue declines in 2023 due to decreased rates and volumes amid ongoing challenges from the Covid-19 pandemic.


In Panama Canal droughts, CPKC sees intermodal opportunity

Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) sees growth opportunities in Panama’s intermodal business as shippers, facing drought conditions in the Panama Canal, turn to rail services to maintain container flow, with Maersk already choosing the Panama Canal Railway to safeguard supply chains.


Key Takeaways

  • Conflict in the Red Sea affects 2024 container shipping plan. Recent US and Allies intervention hopes to reduce such attacks, but carriers are exploring alternative routing and shippers are seeking for ways to deliver goods on time.
  • After an Alaska Airlines flight’ door plug failed, Boeing 737 MAX 9s were grounded. Airlines
    employing the 737 MAX 9 may lose cargo capacity as they switch to other aircraft.
  • Drought has lowered Panama Canal water levels. This has cut canal transits from 29 to 25 daily.

Ocean Freight Market Update

  • The Red Sea Crisis continues to influence freight industry dynamics. Rates remain high.
  • Demand has been strong, and as the Lunar New Year approaches, ocean carriers are lowering freight costs due to a downturn in Asian demand.
  • Vessels and containers will have longer passage durations as a result of the rerouting through the Cape of Good Hope.

Global Schedule Reliability


  • New vessel added to Wan Hai Lines fleet. The new vessel, WAN HAI A13, can carry 13,100 TEUs at 22 knots and has various ecological technologies to save energy and fuel.

North America

  • The December 2023 Descartes Datamyne report showed a 0.4% increase in US box imports from the previous month, unaffected by the Panama Canal drought or Red Sea attacks.
  • A February Federal Maritime Commission hearing will assess the potential impact of Red Sea hostilities on supply chains and commercial shipping. The agency expects shippers and carriers to argue since companies swiftly implemented emergency fees in response to the issue.

Air Freight Updates

  • In early 2024, air cargo volumes are soaring much faster than before.
  • In the second week of January 2024, global air cargo tonnages rose 24%, bucking the end-of-year slump.
  • Tonnages from Asia Pacific and Middle East & South Asia increased to Europe without raising average costs, demonstrating a complex relationship between demand, capacity, and pricing in the global air cargo market.


  • Cathay Pacific plans to hire 5,000 people in 2024 to expand and rebuild. Cathay will use pilots, cabin personnel, and ground support to resume pre-covid operations.
  • Dimerco Express and Yusen Logistics joined Cathay Pacific’s Corporate Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) program. The corporations will increase SAF utilization and promote renewable energy in aviation.

North America

  • FAA to ground 737 MAX 9s for inspection data review after Alaska Air incident. The Alaska Air incident prompted them to commit more supervision and safety measures to address quality control concerns.
  • A San Francisco International Airport main runway is closed for up to five months for taxiway safety improvements. The FAA and airport will work together to minimize delays and disruptions, but the airport has cautioned that one-third of flights may experience minor delays, especially during peak demand hours.
  • Better cargo handling at Vancouver Airport will cost $54.9 million. Modifications will boost airport freight capacity by 160,000 tons, parking, and efficiency.

Freight Market and Amazon News

Amazon Captured 29% of Online Orders Before Christmas

Amazon’s share of online orders surged in the final days of the holiday season, reaching 29% of global order volume, as their investments in speedy delivery proved successful with last-minute shoppers seeking a wide product selection.


Amazon Introduces Consult-a-Friend, a New Mobile Experience

Amazon introduces Consult-a-Friend, a collaborative shopping feature allowing users to seek and manage feedback from friends and family within the Amazon Shopping app, now available in select countries.


Amazon Delivery Gets Faster, with 65% Jump in Number of Same-day and Overnight Items in U.S.

Amazon boosts same-day and overnight deliveries by over 65% year-over-year, reaching record global speeds with more than 7 billion units, plans to enhance speed further in 2024.


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