Air cargo ends the year in the doldrums

The air cargo market ended with a whimper as the industry saw both volumes and yields decline compared with a year earlier.
Figures from analyst WorldACD show that chargeable weight decreased by 3.5% year on year in December, while average yields declined by 2.2% to $2. Volume for the year as a whole was up by 2.2%.
WorldACD said: "The month can be justly characterised as weak: the ‘double whammy” of negative volume growth with negative yield growth made for a YoY airline revenue drop of 5.6% in dollars (1.9% in Euros).
"The last week of 2018 was particularly worrisome with volume a serious 10% below the same week in 2017. December volumes from the larger regions (Asia Pacific, Europe and North America) dropped by larger percentages than those from the smaller areas."
The analyst said there was a mixed picture on the China/Hong Kong-US trade lane, which is under the spotlight because of the tariff war.
China and Hong Kong did better to the US (-3.6% YoY) than to the world as a whole (-4.8% YoY). In the opposite direction, the picture was quite different: US to world (-3.4% YoY) did significantly better than US to China/Hong Kong (-8% YoY).
Looking at performance for the year as a whole, WorldACD said there was a clear drop-off as the year progressed.
"Each month in the period Jan-Aug showed year on year volume growth, albeit in ever smaller percentages as the year progressed.
"Still, the 3.7% year on year overall growth in that period looked good, given the fact that 2017 had been a bumper year.
In the period Sep-Dec, however, things started to look much less positive. Three out of the four months showed a year on year volume decrease, resulting in an overall decrease for this period of 0.6%.
"The year on year yield rise (in dollars) was 15% in the period Jan-Aug against 4.2% for Sep-Dec, a development that seemed to be in line with fluctuations in the oil markets: jet fuel became rapidly more expensive in the months leading up to September, whilst going down in the later part of the year."
The analyst said that Central and South America had been one of the better performing regions in 2018, with exports up 8.4%.
Looking at revenues, there was a 13.2% improvement in the year, with South and Central American airlines recording a 16% increase while African carriers were at the other end of the spectrum with an increase of 13.2%.
"Among the various air cargo categories, pharmaceuticals kept its leading position in year on year  volume growth (+14.8%), followed by dangerous goods and valuables/high tech (+7.7% each).
"Fruits & vegetables were the only category with negative year on year growth (-0.2%). All in all, specials increased by 5.4%, as general cargo increased by 0.9% only."
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