European air cargo monthly: Freight continues to take off at Lufthansa and IAG

Major European airlines saw cargo demand growth accelerate in July, despite some warnings growth may have reached its peak.
The latest figures from Lufthansa, IAG and Finnair all point to continued improvements in air cargo demand, with percentage growth in July beating their average for the year to date.
Air France KLM did see a slight slowdown in growth, although it has withdrawn freighter capacity from the market in recent months.
The largest of the airline groups, Lufthansa, saw cargo traffic increase by 8.4% year on year to 931m revenue cargo tonne kms, compared with year-to-date growth of 7.7%.
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It was the airline’s busiest July since 2011 and performance was likely helped by the decision to re-activate one of its laid-up MD-11Fs in June.
Total capacity was up by 1.4% and as a result the airline saw its cargo load factor for July increase to 67.2% compared with 62.9% last year.
IAG Cargo continued its good run of form with a year-on-year improvement of 6.7% in July to 477m cargo tonne km. It was the airline’s busiest July since 2012.
This is ahead of year-to-date growth of 5.2% but lags behind last month’s double-digit percentage improvement.
In its half-year results statement, the carrier said demand figures had benefitted from strong performance in the Asia Pacific region following weaker conditions in the same period last year.
Finnair also continued to record demand improvements, with traffic increasing by 12.7% to 88m revenue tonne kms.
For the year to date, demand is up 4.3% after a weak start to the year caused by the implementation of a new cargo system and pilot training as the airline took delivery of new aircraft for use on long-haul routes.
“The strong performance of cargo continued in July, driven by the main Chinese destinations, Hong Kong, Japan, Norway and Finland,” the airline said.
“Finnair’s total cargo capacity also included three weekly freighter flights between Helsinki and Brussels, operated by DHL as well as cargo space rented on Japan Airlines’ daily flights between Tokyo and Helsinki.”
Finnair’s cargo load factor for July reached 63.7% compared with 59% last year.
Finally, Air France KLM saw cargo demand increase by the lower amount of 0.7% year on year to 704m revenue tonne km compared with its growth of 1.5% registered over the first seven months of the year.
Performance at the airline is affected by a slimming down of the KLM freighter fleet, which resulted in a 2.3% decline in traffic, while at Air France there was a 4.6% improvement.
KLM has been busy reducing its freighter fleet over the past year. At the end of June last year, it operated four B747-400Fs and two MD-11s. At the end of the first quarter this year, that was reduced to four B747-400Fs.
However, there was a slight improvement in cargo load factor, which was up to 56.1% against 55.5% last year.
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