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Air Freight Rates Rise Amid Red Sea Crisis and in the Run-up to Asia’s Lunar New Year

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As the Red Sea crisis escalates and Asia’s Lunar New Year approaches, global air freight rates have experienced a significant surge. The attacks on shipping in the Red Sea by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group have disrupted trade routes and forced companies to seek costlier air cargo space. This article delves into the reasons behind the rise in air freight rates, the impact on the economy, and the implications for businesses and consumers.

The Red Sea Crisis and its Effects on Shipping

The Red Sea, a vital trade route connecting Asia’s manufacturing hubs to Europe and the Americas, has become increasingly volatile due to attacks by the Houthi rebels. These attacks, carried out in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, have compelled shippers to take longer routes, resulting in delays and disruptions in the shipping industry. As a consequence, companies are turning to air freight as a more reliable alternative to ensure timely delivery of goods.

Factors Driving the Increase in Air Freight Rates

Rerouting of Container Vessels

To avoid the Red Sea and its associated risks, companies have been rerouting container vessels, which has led to longer sailing times and potential delays. In response, shippers, particularly those dealing with high-value goods, have opted for air cargo to bypass these disruptions. This shift in transportation mode has increased the demand for air freight, consequently driving up rates.

Chinese New Year and Stocking Up

The approaching Chinese New Year, a significant holiday in Asia, has further contributed to the surge in air freight rates. Many factories in China close for an 8-day holiday, prompting companies to stock up on goods and ensure their timely delivery before the holiday period. This increased demand for air cargo has put additional pressure on rates, especially out of major manufacturing hubs like Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Impact on the Economy and Businesses

Consumer Prices

The rise in air freight rates is expected to have a significant impact on consumer prices. As companies incur higher transportation costs, these expenses are likely to be passed on to the end consumer. Trade experts warn that if the Red Sea crisis persists and air freight rates continue to climb, consumer prices could see a substantial increase, affecting purchasing power and overall economic stability.

Small Businesses

Small businesses, in particular, are feeling the pinch of rising air freight rates. With limited resources and bargaining power, they often struggle to absorb the increased costs. As a result, many small merchants have already begun passing on these price hikes to consumers, further exacerbating the impact on the economy.

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Mitigating the Effects of Rising Air Freight Rates

Diversification of Supply Chains

In light of the Red Sea crisis and the volatility of shipping routes, businesses are exploring options to diversify their supply chains. This includes identifying alternative trade routes and transportation modes, such as rail or sea-air combinations, to mitigate the reliance on air freight and minimize the impact of rising rates.

Long-Term Contracts and Negotiations

To secure more stable and predictable pricing, companies can consider entering into long-term contracts with freight providers. By establishing long-term partnerships, businesses can negotiate favorable rates and terms, providing some protection against sudden spikes in air freight costs.


The Red Sea crisis and the run-up to Asia’s Lunar New Year have significantly impacted global air freight rates. The attacks on shipping and the need to avoid disruptions in the Red Sea have driven companies to opt for air cargo, resulting in increased demand and higher rates. The implications for the economy, particularly for consumer prices and small businesses, are concerning. To mitigate these effects, businesses are exploring diversification strategies and long-term partnerships. As the situation evolves, it is crucial for stakeholders to closely monitor the developments in the Red Sea and adjust their logistics strategies accordingly.

Additional Information:

  • The Red Sea crisis has prompted companies to consider alternative trade routes and modes of transportation to ensure uninterrupted supply chains.
  • Rising air freight rates can potentially lead to inflation and impact consumer purchasing power.
  • Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to the increase in air freight costs, as they often lack the resources to absorb these additional expenses.
  • Long-term contracts and negotiations with freight providers can help mitigate the impact of rising air freight rates on businesses.


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