European cargo monthly: Air cargo demand on the up in 2016

European airlines ended 2016 on a high with annual cargo demand up at Lufthansa, IAG and Finnair.
The latest monthly airline statistics show that European carriers enjoyed their best year in terms of demand growth since 2013.
The Lufthansa group of airlines saw revenue cargo tonne kms (RCTK) increase by 1.4% during the year to 10bn RCTK.
It is the first time since 2013 that the airline giant has seen cargo demand increase compared with the previous year, although traffic is still below the 10.9bn RCTK it carried in 2011.
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The year also ended well for the German airline group as it registered a December increase of 8.3% to 845m RCTK – its highest percentage increase of the year.
Its average load factor for the year stood at 66.6% compared with 66.3% in 2015, while the December figure stood at 70.3%.
It was also a bumper year for IAG Cargo as demand improved by 3% year on year to 5.4bn cargo ton km (CTK).
It was the first year the airline has recorded an increase in cargo demand since Air Cargo News records begin in 2012.
Once factor that contributed to the improvement was IAG’s takeover of the Aer Lingus group, however, British Airway’s demand for the year was up 1.3% and Iberia recorded a 3.5% improvement.
In December, the airline group saw demand increase 3.4% year on year to 480m CTM.
There was also an annual improvement in traffic at Finnair Cargo where it saw demand improve by 11% year on year to 873m revenue tonne km (RTK). This was the first annual increase recorded by the airline since 2013.
However, there was a dip in demand of 15.7% in December after the implementation of a new cargo management system (CMS) initially caused problems for the airline.
“Cargo performance in December reflected internal systems integration challenges, which temporarily slowed down sales," said Finnair chief financial officer Pekka Vähähyyppä.
Its load factor for the year stood at 59.7% compared with 57.1% in 2015.
It wasn’t quite such a good year for Air France KLM Cargo as it took steps to adjust its freighter fleet.
The Franco-Dutch group saw cargo traffic for the year decline by 6.3% to 8.4bn RTK. This decline follows on from a slip of 8.5% in 2015.
In December, demand was down by 1.6% to 737m RTK. Its load factor for the year stood at 59.3% compared with 60.4% in 2015.
Last year, the company took action to further reduce its freighter fleet by retiring up a further two of its MD-11 freighters in July to leave it with a total of six all-cargo aircraft. It also took an MD-11 out of action earlier in the year.
It said its freighter operations were now on-track to break even this year and added that its freighter fleet reduction had been finalised.

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