Asian Cargo Monthly: Growth continues but at a lower pace

24 / 11 / 2017

Asian airlines continued to report strong cargo growth figures in October, although the pace of improvement has slowed compared with earlier in the year.

The latest figures from the region’s largest cargo airline group, Cathay Pacific, show that during October traffic increased by 4.2% year on year to reach 1bn cargo and mail revenue tonne kms.

This represents the airline group’s busiest October and second busiest month since Air Cargo News records began in 2011.

However, the yea-on-year growth rate is slower than that recorded by Cathay Pacific over the first ten months of the year, which stands at 8.7%.

The slowdown should not come as too much of a surprise, or deflect from the ongoing strong performance of the air cargo market, as it was around this time last year that the airfreight market began to pick up, making year-ago comparisons tougher than during the first three quarters of 2017.

This trend was also noted in Europe, with IAG Cargo and Lufthansa also noting a growth slowdown.

Cathay Pacific director commercial and cargo Ronald Lam said: “Our cargo business enjoyed a strong month and we broke our weekly tonnage uplift record during the week ending October 21.

“Stepping into the traditional peak period, demand for new IT products and perishables was robust.

“We deployed additional freighter capacity on transpacific, India and mainland China routes, while our load factor and yields continued to climb.

“October also marked an important milestone for our Pharma LIFT business – along with our wholly-owned subsidiaries Cathay Pacific Services Limited and Hong Kong Airport Services Limited, the airline was awarded CEIV Pharma Certification in recognition of our capability in handling high-value and time-sensitive pharmaceutical products.”

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The airline group also saw its cargo load factor for the month improve to 69.3% compared with 68.1% last year.

Other major cargo airlines from the region also saw demand growth slow during October.

Singapore Airlines Cargo registered a 1.8% increase in cargo traffic to 638m freight tonne kms, which is down on its growth rate over the first ten months of 4.6% year on year.

At China Southern there was a 6.8% increase in traffic for October to 593m revenue tonne kms, led by regional and international growth while domestic traffic declined. This compares with growth over the first ten months of 15.4% year on year.

The weight of cargo carried by China Southern was also down, reflecting the addition of longer routes and cargo travelling longer distances.

China Airlines saw demand increased 5.8% compared with 7.8% for the first ten months and Eva Air saw cargo traffic decline by 6.3% against a 4.4% improvement for the first ten months. This was the first decrease for the airline in 17 months.

The only airline to buck the trend was Air China, which registered a 14.1% increase in traffic to 695m revenue freight tonne kms. This is the airline’s second double-digit percentage increase in freight traffic in a row and the busiest ever October.

Cargo tonnes for the month improved by the lower level of 6.1%, suggesting the introduction of longer services. Like China Southern, the airline registered a decline in domestic cargo traffic while regional and international demand improved at double-digit levels.

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