American air cargo carriers record 2015 demand declines
15 / 01 / 2016
The majority of America’s major combination airlines recorded declines in cargo demand last year, with United being the only carrier to buck the trend.
Of the four major North and South American airlines that report monthly cargo statistics, American, Delta and LATAM all recorded declines in cargo demand last year.
Source: companies. * = cargo ton miles. ** = cargo tonne km
The largest demand decline was registered by the LATAM group of airlines, a reflection of general weakness in Latin American country’s economies and a reduction in freighter capacity to meet the demand declines.
Overall, demand at the airline group was down by 12.1% year on year to 3.8bn revenue tonne km for 2015.
It is the second year in a row the airline has experienced the largest percentage decline in cargo demand of the four carriers.
In its update for December, the LATAM Group said: “Cargo traffic continues to be weak during the month of December especially in Brazil domestic and international markets.
“Additionally, weaker seasonal exports from Latin America contributed to the softness in demand.”
The move to reduce freighter capacity is reflected in an overall decrease in space of 1.9% on 2014 levels.
As a result of demand falling faster than supply, the LATAM Group had an average cargo load factor for the year of 53.6% compared with 59.8% in 2014.
The drop off in demand experienced by the LATAM group was reflected by the November statistics from the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA).
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is expecting Brazilian GDP to decline by 3% in 2015 and Argentine GDP to grow by just 0.4%.
The situation doesn’t appear to be too optimistic for the year ahead either, with the IMF projecting a 0.7% decline in Argentina’s GDP and 1% fall from Brazil.
The next largest decline in cargo demand in percentage terms was registered by Delta, which saw traffic drop by 7.1% year on year to 2.2bn to cargo ton miles (CTM).
As a result of the demand decline, Delta lost its position as the second busiest US combination cargo carrier with American pushing it into third place.
While American recorded a decline in cargo demand in 2015, the slide of 0.7% to 2.3bn CTM was far less than that of Delta. In 2014, it registered an increase of 6.1%.
Meanwhile, United extended its lead at the top of the table as the busiest US combination cargo carrier as it was the only airline of the four to record an increase in demand last year.
During 2015, United saw traffic increase by 5.2% to 2.6bn CTM. It was the second year in a row the airline has recorded the largest increase in cargo demand of the four airlines.
Looking ahead, there are positive signs for the US economy, and the IMF is projecting GDP growth of 2.8% in 2016, compared with 2.6% last year.