Asia cargo monthly: Demand continues to grow in May but utilisation slips

Asian airlines continued to see cargo volumes grow at a steady pace in May, but capacity additions mean that freight load factors came under pressure.

The region’s largest carrier group, Cathay Pacific, was the only airline in our monthly wrap-up that saw its cargo load factor increase during the month on the back of strong demand growth.

In total, the carrier saw cargo traffic increase by 7.3% year on year in May to 965m cargo and mail revenue tonne kms, while capacity was up 3.8%.

As a result, its cargo load factor for the month increased to 68.6% compared with 66.3% last year.

Traffic growth is slightly below its performance for the first five months of the year, for which the carrier has recorded an increase of 7.7%.

The airline group said its cargo business benefited from the addition of new services.

Click on chart for interactive version

Cathay Pacific Director Commercial and Cargo Ronald Lam said: “In terms of cargo, we had stable uplift in May. Higher transhipment flow across the network helped improve our load factor, while yield also strengthened.

“Our new European routes to Brussels, Copenhagen and Dublin were all launched smoothly and are performing in line with our expectations.”

Elsewhere load factors came under pressure as supply additions outstripped demand.

The region’s second largest combination carrier, Air China, saw demand during the month increase by 5.6% year on year to 683m revenue freight tonne kms. This compares with 9.3% growth over the first five months, thanks to a very strong January and February.

However, the increase in traffic is outstripped by a 7.8% jump in capacity, pushing its load factor down to 57.6% against 58.8% last year.

It was a similar story at China Southern where it recorded a 2.2% increase in demand to 640m revenue freight tonne kms, but capacity was up by 7.8%.

As a result its cargo load factor for May slipped to 53% against 56% last year.

At Singapore Airlines (SIA) Cargo demand in traffic terms decreased by 3.3% to 592m freight tonne kms, although there was a small increase in tonnage carried, and capacity was up 2.7%.

As a result it saw its cargo load factor slip to 62.6% against 66.5% last year.

Finally, China Airlines saw its May load factor slip to 70.8% from 73.1% last year despite traffic increasing 5.8% and Eva Air’s was down at 84.9% against 86.6% last year, even though cargo traffic increased by 4.2%.

Despite the weaker load factors, both China Airlines and Eva Air managed to record their highest yield levels of the year so far in May.

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