With February results now in from many of the world’s major carriers and airports, we have a clearer picture of the start to 2015. Neither January nor February y-o-y data is particularly significant on its own, as the timing of the Lunar New Year holiday varies from year to year. But by treating January and February as a single month, we see that it looks like 2015 is off to a reasonably strong start.
As is obvious in the chart at right, Asian carriers and airports have turned in an astonishing performance, and we expect that when data are available for Middle East-based carriers we will see continued strong growth there, as well. Likewise, two of the big three US carriers have reported solid growth. European carriers continue to perform poorly, but it is worth noting that results reported by both Lufthansa and IAG are an improvement over the latter part of 2014.
Now for the details…
Cathay Pacific Airways reported February cargo traffic up 38.7% y-o-y to 761 million RTKs. This follows a 14.2% gain in January, and brings the carrier’s cargo traffic for the first two months of 2015 to 1.62 million RTKs, a 24.5% increase over the first two months of 2014. Commenting on the December performance, Cathay Pacific General Manager Cargo Sales & Marketing Mark Sutch said: “The high-year-on-year tonnage growth reflects the overall improvement in the world’s air cargo markets compared to early 2014, along with the extra capacity added by Cathay Pacific in response to the increase in demand. February’s figures were spurred by a surge in exports prior to Mainland factories shutting down for the Chinese New Year holidays. Demand fell away over the holiday period, as expected, but saw quite a rapid pick-up, particularly on the North American lanes.
Hong Kong International Airport reported cargo volume in February up 22.6% y-o-y to 303,000 tonnes. Combined with January’s modest 1.6% growth, this lifts HKIA’s handle for the first two months to 659,000 tonnes, up 10.2% over the same period in 2014. Commenting on the December results, HKIA said: “The combined growth of cargo throughput for the first two months was mainly attributed to 12% year-on-year growth in exports and 10% growth in transshipments. Traffic to/from North America and Southeast Asia increased most significantly compared to other key regions. Taking into consideration the fact that Chinese New Year fell in different calendar months in 2014 and 2015, the combined traffic figures for the first two months of the year provide a more realistic comparison with last year’s performance.”
Beijing-based Air China reported that its February cargo traffic soared 34.2% y-o-y to 422 million RTKs. For the combined January/February period, Air China’s cargo traffic was up 29.7% to 936 million RTKs. The timing of the Lunar New Year holiday makes individual month data from January and February suspect, but the 30% growth for the combined two-month period shows that not only is Air China continuing its strong growth of the latter part of last year, but in fact improving on it. Worth noting is that the two-month growth was driven by staggering 41.4% growth in international traffic to 695 million RTKs. Domestic traffic for the period was up a relatively modest 3.3% to 223 million RTKs.
Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines reported another month of strong air freight demand growth, with February cargo traffic up 34.1% y-o-y to 334 million RTKs. For the combined January/February period, China Southern’s cargo traffic was up 25.9% to 769 million RTKs. The two-month growth was driven by 34.5% growth in international traffic to 512 million RTKs, while domestic traffic was up 11.4% to 253 million RTKs.
Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines reversed its 2014 trend of declining cargo traffic, reporting February traffic up 26.6% y-o-y to 370 million RTKs. This follows a 7.8% y-o-y increase in January, and gives the carrier a two-month total of 782 million RTKs, up 16.0% over Jan/Feb 2014. International traffic for the two-month period was up 20.7% to 627 million RTKs, while domestic traffic was down 1.1% to 135 million RTKs.
Shanghai Pudong International Airport Cargo Terminals Co. Ltd (Pactl, the biggest cargo handler at PVG): After reporting its January handle up 12.9% y-o-y, Pactl reported its February handle up 29.3% y-o-y to 104,000 tonnes. For the combined two months, Pactl’s handle was up 19.8% to 229,000 tonnes.
Europe & Middle East
Lufthansa Cargo reported February traffic up 1.0% y-o-y to 647 million RTKs. For the Lufthansa Group as a whole, January cargo traffic was up 1.8% y-o-y to 775 million RTKs. For the first two months of the year, Lufthansa Cargo reported traffic down 0.6% to 1.24 billion RTKs, while the Lufthansa Group’s cargo traffic was down 0.3% to 1.49 billion RTKs. On a regional basis, Group cargo traffic for the two month period was up 0.7% to 682 million RTKs on the trans-Atlantic lane, down 0.7% to 621 million RTKs on the Asia-Pacific lane, and down 0.8% to 131 million RTKs on the Middle East/Africa lane.
Air France-KLM continued to report significant declines in cargo traffic, with February down 8.2% y-o-y to 726 million RTKs. This follows an 8.0% drop in January, and leaves the carrier’s cargo traffic for the two-month period down 8.1% to 1.44 billion RTKs. Air France-KLM’s cargo capacity was down 2.4% for the year-to-date, but this is nowhere near enough to explain the drop in traffic.
International Airlines Group reported February cargo traffic down 1.9% y-o-y to 422 million RTKs, a considerable improvement over the 5.8% y-o-y decline reported in January, and in fact the carrier’s strongest result since it terminated the leases on three 747-8Fs in April last year. For the first two months of 2015, IAG’s cargo traffic was down 3.8% to 829 million RTKs
Frankfurt Airport (FRA) reported its February cargo handle up 1.8% to 162,000 tonnes. For the first two months of 2015, FRA’s handle was up 0.5% to 322 million tonnes.
London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) reported its February handle up 7.7% y-o-y to 118,000 tonnes. For the first two months of 2015, LHR’s handle was up 5.5% to 234,000 tonnes.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport reported its February handle up 2.1% to 126,000 tonnes. For the year to date, AMS’ handle was up 0.1% to 246,000 tonnes.
United Airlines reported February cargo traffic up 21.1% to 323 million RTKs, continuing a period of strong growth that began in late 2013. For the first two months of 2015, United’s cargo traffic was up 16.2% to 616 million RTKs.
American Airlines Group reported February cargo traffic up 2.8% to 258 million RTKs. For the first two months of 2015, American’s cargo traffic was flat with 2014 at 507 million RTKs.
Delta Air Lines reported February cargo traffic up 9.9% y-o-y to 260 million RTKs. For the combined January/February period, Delta’s cargo traffic was up 6.4% to 512 million RTKs.
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