Air freight volume up 7.5% in May

According to data just released by WorldACD, air freight tonnage was up 7.5% y-o-y in May, continuing the growth trend that began last year, and which has accelerated in recent months. While this is good news in itself, WorldACD said that yield, in US$, was almost flat with May 2013, ending the long-term trend of falling yields (see charts below). The strong May performance follows an almost-as-strong April (up 6% y-o-y) and pushes tonnage for the first five months of 2014 up 5% over January-to-May 2013.

WorldACD’s report of a 6% y-o-y increase in April stood in contrast to data published by the International Air Transport Association, which showed worldwide cargo traffic in May up just 3.2% y-o-y. Likewise, the predictions for the rest of the year were quite different, with IATA saying it expected relatively low growth, while WorldACD was bullish, saying it expected the strong growth in April to continue throughout 2014.

We point out that WorldACD is measuring cargo volume (in tonnes carried), while IATA measures cargo traffic (in revenue tonne kilometers flown). However, unless there is dramatic surge or decline in short-haul relative to long-haul business, which we do not believe there has been, the relationship between volume and traffic is relatively stable. IATA will publish its May data in the next few days, and it will be interesting to see how it compares to WorldACD’s.

The top chart below shows rolling twelve-month average weight, revenue, and yield compared to full-year 2008. The bottom chart shows year-over-year gains and losses in tonnage and yield. WorldACD’s reports are based on data from “all Air Way Bills issued worldwide by, or on behalf of, fifty-one airlines , predominantly from the world’s top 50.”

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