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Worldwide air cargo volumes dropped 5.0% in October 2019 compared with the same month in 2018, but were 7% higher month-over-month, according to the latest market report from WorldACD.

General cargo declined 8.2% in October year-on-year, while special cargo grew 2.7% compared to last year. High-tech & other vulnerable goods increased by 13%, while pharma & temperature controlled goods rose by 8% year-over-year. Perishables in total declined 1%: fish & seafood did best (+6%) and flowers did worst (-3%).

Yield decreased 11.2% year-on-year (+2.5% month-on-month), and revenues were 16% lower.

Of all origin regions, Latin America was hit hardest with a year-on-year volume decrease of 10%. The only origin region that remained stable was Africa.

As destinations, all regions contracted—ranging from Latin America (-8%) to the Middle East & South Asia (-1%). The buildup towards the end-of-year peak is not very different from last year: October was 7% higher than September, which is the same month-on-month growth as in 2018.

Of the top 20 origin cities in the world, only two showed a year-on-year volume increase in October, and both are in China, said WorldACD. Guangzhou showed an increase of 16% and Shanghai 3%.

Some smaller origins in Asia-Pacific also recorded positive results: Shenzhen +58%, Zhengzhou +19%, Ho Chi Minh City +7%; while Perth grew in double digits at +22%.

Year-to-date, all the three large regions—Asia-Pacific, North America and Europe—are in line with the worldwide average of -5% in volumes. But there are clear directional differences in two of the three markets between these regions, said the report.

Most balanced is the Asia-Pacific-Europe market, with 2% more cargo going eastward than westward. The Transpacific and Transatlantic, however, are much less balanced. There is much more cargo to North America than from North America: 68% on the Transpacific and 40% on the Transatlantic. In both markets the yields to North America are also much higher than in the other direction—78% and 65%, respectively.

“However, when compared with 2018, the yields to North America dropped more than yields in the opposite direction. In other words, in both markets the directional difference in yields became smaller,” said the report.

Comparing 2019 with 2018 for these three regions, the total volume on the six markets (i.e. both directions) dropped by 5.3% for the year-to-date, but special products did better, especially pharma (+7%), high tech (+7%) and fish & seafood (+11%).

For each of the six markets the general cargo yield dropped more than the special cargo yield. This seems to be the new norm, especially for perishables, where the yields held up well, the report said.

Photo by Jules Meulemans

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