Air cargo demand continued to rally in September

By Damian Brett

Air cargo demand continued its gradual recovery in September with figures heading back towards year-ago levels, according to data from WorldACD.

Figures from the data provider show that demand in September was down 12.5% year on year, which brings “some reason for optimism”. This compares with a 33% decline in demand in April when the market low was reached.

WorldACD figures also show that demand bucked seasonal trends in September and increased by 8% compared with August.

“Even yields/charges per kg seemed to ‘stabilise’ at around $2.82 (still more than 60% higher year-on-year). In short: air cargo was in its best shape since April,” it said in its monthly market review.

Looking at cargo types, general cargo was on the up during the month.

“We have noted that quite a bit of the Covid-related equipment is marked as general cargo. With the ‘second wave’ growing over the past months, this may well be one of the reasons why general cargo was up by 8% (month on month) in September, and other product categories by only 4%.

“Transport of flowers increased by 7% month on month, but other perishables, vulnerable goods and pharmaceuticals by around 2% only. Thus, general cargo’s share of the total business showed a month on month increase from 65.5% to 66.5%.”

For origins, Africa, Europe and Middle East & South Asia (MESA) improved by 11%, 10% and 8% respectively compared with August.

“Freighter capacity in September was the same as in August, but cargo capacity on passenger aircraft increased by 3%,” WorldACD said. “Average load factors on the two aircraft types improved by one and three percentage points respectively.

WorldACD also looked at performance over the second and third quarters — the Covid quarters. Overall demand was down 21% against last year.

“The origins MESA, Africa and Europe suffered most (-37%, -30%, -28% respectively), and Asia Pacific least (-12%). Most areas suffered losses on all major trade lanes (i.e. region-to-region markets) in more or less equal measure. The exceptions were Asia Pacific, and Central and South America (C&S Am). The former lost very little on the lanes to Europe and North America, whilst C&S Am only lost 7% on its lanes to the north.”

However, due to the capacity shortage caused by a loss of belly capacity, revenues were up by 42%.

Another finding is that forwarders outside the world’s Top-30 increased their worldwide share, from 54% to 55%, but they ‘bought’ that increase by accepting charges that were 85% higher YoY, whilst the Top-30 saw their charges increase by 76%.

“In the largest market (i.e. ex-Asia Pacific) the Top-30 paid average charges that were 6% lower than those paid by the smaller forwarders (last year they were 12% higher). This is the more telling when taking into account that the Top-30 do much more in the markets to North America, where charges are highest,” WorldACD said.

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