Red Sea Attacks: Ocean spot rates climb to record levels, air cargo increases in demand 


Recent attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea have sent shockwaves through global supply chains, prompting a review of traditional shipping routes. As container ship operators reroute around the Cape of Good Hope, crucial transit times are extended by a minimum of seven to ten days, leading to a surge in ocean spot rates, reaching the highest levels since October 2022.

In response to this disruption, major shippers like Maersk have reported a staggering 50% increase in costs for alternative routes. The repercussions are rippling through the industry, affecting consumers and manufacturers alike. With fuel and transit time costs rising, the urgency for time-critical logistics strategies is more apparent than ever.

Container rates are predicted to continue climbing, but the imbalance in supply and demand suggests that relief for logistics planners may be on the horizon. However, in the face of this uncertainty, the international community is mobilising to reopen the Bab-el-Mandeb strait and ensure the safety of shipping routes. Despite these efforts, success has been limited, prompting a growing demand for alternative solutions, notably air freight.

Figure 1.0 – Line chart showing the weekly increase of container rates for China/East Asia to the Mediterranean, Freightos Baltic Index – 12 December 2023 to 16 January 2024

As global economic concerns intensify, the burden of increased costs cannot solely rest on consumers. Reports indicating a drastic reduction in container vessel traffic underline the need for immediate action. Time-critical services emerge as a short-term solution, safeguarding Just-In-Time production lines from inventory shortfalls and prolonged transit times.

Given these challenges, comprehensive scenario planning and contingency measures are imperative for businesses impacted by the latest supply chain disruptions. The strategic rerouting of vessels underscores the importance of having alternative options readily available. Manufacturers can mitigate risk by diversifying suppliers, onshoring, and maintaining higher inventory levels.

The events in the Red Sea highlight the unpredictability and regularity of supply chain interruptions, emphasising the need for consultative measures. As disruptions persist, the need for time-critical logistics becomes pivotal. Our teams are actively monitoring developments in the Red Sea, offering vital support to ensure supply chains remain resilient to risks. With a global network of experts, we’re ready to advise on navigating this challenging landscape and developing effective contingency plans.

Speak to an analyst

Click here to brief our analysts and obtain delivery options and costs.

Live Chat
Request a brochure

Learn more about premium logistics solutions to support your business.

Expert guides

Sign up for our newsletter and receive our expert guides to time critical logistics.