Air cargo has the best peak season in years

05 / 01 / 2017

The latest figures from analyst WorldACD show that the air cargo industry had the "best peak season in years" in 2016, with demand growth recovering from a slow start and yields improving at their fastest pace since 2010.

The latest data from the analyst shows that demand in tonnage terms in November increased by 6.9% compared with last year, with demand improvements from Hong Kong and China playing a "major role in the positive end-of-year developments".

"This year's peak season can be called a success," WorldACD said. "Although growth was concentrated in Asia Pacific, we have no doubt that the typical perishables exporters, Egypt, US Pacific, Chile and Colombia, will also subscribe to this view, as their volume increase for perishables in the period October/November ranged between 16% (Chile) and 34% (Egypt) year on year."

Long-haul growth continued to outpace short-haul during the month, but the difference between the two narrowed as intra-Asia traffic improved by 15%.

There were also improvements in yields as the year drew to a close. In the main markets from Asia Pacific, between August and November the dollar yield to North America rose by 25%, and to Europe by 30% on a month earlier.

"Air cargo has not seen such seasonal yield improvements since 2009... Volume increases since the summer were spectacular in markets from Hong Kong (+30%) and Shanghai (+17%), also higher than in previous years," the analyst said.

WorldACD did, however, point out that the yield improvements did come from a low base. They also continue to lag behind last year's levels (see main image).

The analyst also looked and longer term trends and found that traffic from Europe to Asia Pacific now exceeded that of the opposite direction as Asian purchasing power has improved.

"Whereas most markets continued to show the directional balance (or imbalance) they already had in 2010, the market between Europe and Asia Pacific did not.

"In six years' time, there was hardly any growth from Asia Pacific to Europe, but growth was 39% in the opposite direction, creating a reversal of the balance: air cargo volumes from Europe to Asia Pacific have now overtaken the volumes in the opposite direction."

The figures reported by WorldACD reflect the traffic numbers reported by individual airlines. Click below to see our data dashboards for various regions.

Click here to access our data dashboards for Asia, Europe and North America.