European air cargo monthly: Mixed start to the year for European carriers

12 / 02 / 2018

It was a mixed start to the year for European carrier’s cargo businesses, with Lufthansa seeing a surge in demand while IAG registered a decline.

Frankfurt-hubbed Lufthansa Cargo got off to a flying start as it saw air cargo demand increase by 9.3% year on year in January to 807m revenue cargo tonne kms (RCTK), following on from its 7.3% improvement for 2017.

January’s performance represents Lufthansa’s busiest start to the year for cargo since 2011 when it handled 817m RCTK.

The increase in demand reflects a 7.7% year-on-year increase in capacity during the month. Its cargo load factor for the month reached 66.3% compared with 65.4% a year earlier.

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Meanwhile, IAG Cargo saw demand slip during the month as it handled 431m cargo ton miles, a 0.6% decrease on a year earlier.

Last year’s figures were boosted by a shortage of vegetables in the UK, which fed airfreight as perishables were flown from further afield.

The January performance was the airline group’s slowest start to the year for cargo since 2013.

For Air France KLM, the year started on a flat note as cargo increased by 0.7% year on year to 662m revenue tonne kms (RTK). Although this represents an increase on last year, it does still lag behind 2016’s 668m RTK recorded in January.

The month was also slightly behind 2017’s overall performance when the Franco-Dutch carrier saw cargo demand increase by just under 2%.

AF KLM has been reducing its freighter capacity over the last couple of years and this has been affecting cargo traffic performance.

The airline group also saw its cargo load factor slip to 55.8% in January from 56.5% during the same month last year.

Finally, Finnair started the year well as it registered a 5.5% increase in cargo traffic to 61.2m RTK. This follows on from last year’s performance and is a reflection of delivery of A350XWB aircraft that offer greater cargo capacity. The airline also opened a new cargo hub at the start of the year.

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