Airfreight's special October for volumes and revenues, says WorldACD

01 / 12 / 2017

October was a “special” month in global air cargo, said analyst WorldACD. In its latest analysis of 75 airlines, monthly volumes were higher than ever, while revenues (in euros) also peaked.

Although revenues in dollar terms did not reach the heights scaled in October 2010-14, it should be noted that oil prices in that period were almost twice as high as they are today, it pointed out.

With the recovery under way for more than a year now, the 10% increases seen earlier this year are a thing of the past but, for the 14th month in succession, the industry showed year-on-year (YoY) growth of well over 5%, “easily outpacing the growth in world trade”, pointed out the analyst.

Moreover, it expects that the records set in October will almost certainly be broken in November.

Worldwide volumes in October increased by 6.9% YoY which, impressive as it was considering the strong October 2016 performance, was dwarfed by a YoY revenue growth (in dollars) of 20.5%.

WorldACD says this was driven in particular by impressive yield growth from Europe and the Middle East and South Asia, in particular from India; high volume growth from Europe, from and to North America, and to Central and South America; and the higher fuel cost factored into revenues.

The analysis from WorldACD follows hot on the heels of IATA, which saw October provide a robust start for 2017's fourth quarter.

Of the top-20 origin countries, WorldACD noted higher than average YoY volume growth in parts of the US (Atlantic South +19.1%, and Midwest +14.4%), Vietnam (+16.6%), Australia (+15.9%), Japan (+12.3%), the UK (+10.4%), Spain (+8.6%) and Germany (+7.6%). Lagging behind were origins such as Taiwan (-8.8%) , the Netherlands (+1.5%), China East (+2.9%) and India (+3.7%).

Turning to specific cargo products, pharmaceuticals enjoyed the largest YoY revenue growth (+31%), thanks to a healthy volume increase of 19%, coupled with an increase of more than 10% in yields (already over 50% higher than the average for air cargo).

However, developments in the two largest product categories had differing fortunes. High tech and vulnerable goods thrived (both volume and yields increased by more than 11%) but fruit and vegetables were less in demand, at least compared with October 2016.

‘Edible freight’ volume decreased by 2.5% YoY, whilst average yields hardly gained ground. But compared with the previous month, the sector did very well, with a revenue increase of 16.3% over September 2017.

The trend in direct ton kilometres (DTK) growth for this year seems quite stable, the analyst continues. DTK growth larger than that for kilos points to an increase in the average distance between origin and destination of shipments. 

In October 2017, the difference was smaller than in previous months (+6.9% in kilograms versus  +7.4% for DTKs), as the traditional long haul markets from East Asia grew less than average. For the year as a whole, WorldACD expects DTKs to outgrow volume by 1% — suggesting that that longer haul markets are continuing to grow faster than shorter haul.

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