January air cargo off up to 8pc for Asia, Europe, Americas carriers

AIR cargo carriers based in Asia, Europe and the Americas suffered a drop in cargo volumes in January, with the six major Asia-based airlines recording decreases - barring China Airlines - ranging from 0

25 February 2019 - 19:00

AIR cargo carriers based in Asia, Europe and the Americas suffered a drop in cargo volumes in January, with the six major Asia-based airlines recording decreases - barring China Airlines - ranging from 0.3 and eight per cent.

This preliminary result follows two years of strong January growth. Most airlines posting declines this year reported low-single-digit growth in both 2016 and 2017, Seattle's Cargo Facts reported, noting that the timing of the Chinese New Year has skewed the results to some degree.

Regardless, the results do not allay fears that greater headwinds from Brexit and the ongoing US-China trade row are starting to dampen global trade activity and air cargo volumes.

Cathay Pacific Airways reported January cargo traffic down 5.2 per cent year on year to 904 million revenue tonne kilometres (RTKs). This is the third straight month in which the airline has reported year-on-year drops in cargo activity. Cargo and mail tonnage fell by 3.4 per cent to 167,000 tonnes.

Commenting on the January performance, cargo director Ronald Lam said: 'Chinese New Year this year was earlier than last, leading to a slight distortion in both passenger and cargo revenue for January and February. Cargo uplift gradually picked up before Chinese New Year, but the pre-holiday rush was not as strong as last year.

'As a result, our cargo revenue recorded small negative year-on-year growth in January. Some short-term capacity rationalization was made to better match demand.'

Singapore Airlines saw January cargo traffic decrease by 6.2 per cent year on year to 548 million freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) on cargo volumes that rose by just 0.3 per cent to 106,000 tonnes. Cargo load factors dropped 3.8 per cent to 58.1 points.

Commenting on the results, the carrier said in a statement: 'All route regions registered declines in CLF as demand did not keep pace with capacity changes.'

Beijing-based Air China reported January cargo traffic that was flat with January 2018 (minus 0.3 per cent) at 404 million RTKs, apparently accounting for disruptions stemming from the Lunar New Year Holiday.

Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines reported cargo traffic down 1.4 per cent year on year in January 2019 to 644 million RTKs on weaker international traffic that was down 4.8 per cent to 479 million RTKs. Growth in China Southern's domestic cargo business, which reported traffic up 10.6 per cent to 163 million RTKs, helped to ease the blow.

Taiwan-based EVA Air reported an eight per cent decline in January traffic to 297 million FTKs - the sharpest fall in traffic for the airline since 2016. Tonnage also declined 6.2 per cent to 53,000 tonnes. Taiwan dollar-denominated (TWD) cargo yields, however, rose 10.3 per cent year on year.

Taiwan's China Airlines was one of the few carriers in Asia Pacific to post growth in January cargo traffic, albeit up by just 0.8 per cent year on year to 436 million RTKs. Yields rose 10.4 per cent to 7.8 TWD/FRTK. Cargo revenues continue to account for 30 per cent of China Airlines' overall revenues.

Lufthansa Cargo Group airlines reported January traffic down five per cent to 767 million RTKs. On a regional basis, group cargo traffic grew by 9.2 per cent to 62 million RTKs on the Middle East/Africa lane, but these gains were not enough to compensate for a 9.2 per cent decline in cargo traffic on the Asia Pacific lane to 343 million RTKs.

Traffic on the America and Europe lanes also fell 2.1 per cent and 6.1 per cent, respectively.

Air France-KLM reported overall group cargo traffic down one per cent to 656 million RTKs in January on weaker KLM Cargo traffic that decreased 3.1 per cent to 371 million RTKs. Air France saw cargo activity rise 1.9 per cent to 286 million FTKs.

International Airlines Group reported January cargo traffic rose by 4.1 per cent y-o-y to 449 million RTKs on rising cargo activity at the group's subsidiary carriers Aer Lingus and Iberia, which reported January traffic up 40 per cent and 12.3 per cent respectively - albeit from low bases. British Airways saw traffic rise one per cent to 343 million RTKs.

LATAM Airlines Group reported January cargo traffic down 3.3 per cent to 285 million RTKs, the carrier's fourth straight month of lower traffic in annual comparisons with 2018. Load factors were down 1.1 percentage point to 52.3 per cent.

Delta Air Lines saw January cargo traffic slide by minus 0.2 per cent to 226 million RTKs.


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