Home » Aviation, Breaking News » Air cargo experiences first decline since March 2016; China to US volume down

For the first time in two-and-a-half years, worldwide air cargo volume posted negative growth year-on-year, contracting 0.9% in September compared to last year, according to the latest figures from WorldACD.

The contraction comes in the wake of the marginal growth in air cargo reported over the past months. Airline revenues kept growing, however, thanks to a strengthening yield. At the same time, fuel cost was around 32% higher than one year ago.

Compared with September 2017, the month had one Sunday more and one Friday less, making for a drop of about 1% to 1.5% in worldwide air cargo volumes, according to WorldACD. Another factor is the performances of Hong Kong (which contracted 7.7% year-on-year) and Japan (down 4.8% year-on-year), as both areas were hit by the September typhoons.

Notably, too, while the origin China showed growth both year-on-year and month-on-month, the market from China to the U.S. was in decline, falling 1.8% year-on-year and 4.4% month-on-month, which WorldACD opined may have something to do with American President Donald Trump’s trade war.

The first three quarters of 2018 showed 2.8% volume growth year-on-year, accompanied by a yield increase of 14.2% in U.S. dollar terms and 6.6% yield expansion in euros.

While the origin region Central & South America stood out for its 11% volume increase, Europe noted the best year-on-year revenue performance (+21% when measured in dollars, + 13% in euros). Europe was also the fastest growing destination (+5.4% in volume year-on-year).

To underscore the importance of the transport of specific products, all special product categories outperformed general cargo, with pharmaceuticals, express and live animals still recording double-digit growth, said the report.

Growth in Cathay Pacific’s cargo

Meanwhile, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon traffic figures for September show a decrease in the number of passengers carried due to typhoon disruption and an increase in cargo and mail uplifted compared to the same month in 2017.

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon carried a total of 2.6 million passengers last month, a decrease of 1.0% compared to September 2017. The passenger load factor decreased 0.2 percentage points to 80.8%, while capacity increased by 0.7%. In the first nine months of 2018, the number of passenger carried grew by 2.0% while capacity increased by 3.1%.

The two airlines carried 180,623 tonnes of cargo and mail last September, an increase of 1.7% compared to the same month last year. The cargo and mail load factor rose by 1.1 percentage points to 69.2%. Capacity was increased by 0.7% while cargo and mail revenue freight tonne kilometers (RFTKs) increased by 2.3%. In the first nine months of 2018, the tonnage rose by 6.4% against a 3.0% increase in capacity and a 6.1% increase in RFTKs.

Cathay Pacific director of commercial and cargo Ronald Lam said: “The significant disruption caused by Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong and Typhoon Jebi in Japan negatively impacted both our passenger and cargo businesses in September, leading to slower capacity and revenue growth than had been anticipated.”

On the cargo front, Lam said demand continued to strengthen going into the seasonal peak and the group saw both year-on-year load factor and yield improvements during the month.

“However, we continue to closely monitor external factors that are impacting global trade,” he said.

Photo: Mohammed Tawsif Salam

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