The research company’s East-West Air Freight Price Index, a weighted average of airfreight rates across 21 East-West trades, fell 2.7 points in June to 94.3 points.
A pricing erosion had been anticipated as the trade entered the peak passenger season which tends to depress air cargo load factors.
But June’s fall has brought average airfreight rates “down to levels last witnessed in the depths of the 2009 world recession, underlining the perilously weak state of the air cargo market,” Drewry said in a media release.
“Pricing retreated most on Asia-origin trades into both North America and Europe, assisted in some part by falling fuel surcharges,” it added.
While several main airport hubs in Asia are reporting stronger export traffic figures than last year (including Hong Kong, which is up 2 percent in the five months to May), several others are not, such as Tokyo, which saw a 6 percent year-on-year decline over the same period.
“The net effect is that exports from the Asia-Pacific region, by far the largest in airfreight terms, have fallen 2.5 percent so far this year,” Drewry noted.
Adding to the downward pressure on rates is rising bellyhold capacity, as carriers ramp up their schedules to cope with the northern hemisphere’s peak holiday season.
According to IATA, all regions reported deteriorating load factors in May, which are now at their lowest seasonally adjusted levels since the post-crisis recovery.
Drewry expects airfreight pricing to remain under pressure until the end of this holiday season, after which carriers are expected to rein in capacity, which should buoy rates.
It forecasts some recovery in air cargo volumes in the second half of the year, “though this view is being tempered by slowing economic growth in developing countries.”