Another month of standing still?

Many of the world’s major cargo carriers, handlers, and airports have now reported their August statistics, and, while there is considerable variation, the overall picture appears to be one of continued stagnation.

We expect that when IATA and WorldACD publish their worldwide summaries in two weeks, they will show demand almost flat with August 2014, or perhaps slightly down. And speaking of IATA, Glyn Hughes, the association’s head of cargo, was recently quoted in Air Cargo Asia Pacific as saying that while there may have been some growth in cargo traffic, the increase was mostly the result of an increase in multi-stop routes – that is, the same volume of freight was moving a longer distance. “The expansion of cargo capacity by global carriers has resulted in freight going through third-country transit points, adding kilometers to the journey.”

Those interested in a detailed analysis of this and other trends in air freight demand should join us at the Cargo Facts Air Cargo Symposium in Miami, 26 – 28 October, where Mr. Hughes will take part as a panelist in a session devoted to the current state of the industry. For more information, or to register, go to

And now for the details

Asia Pacific

Cathay Pacific Airways reported August cargo traffic up 0.4% y-o-y to 861 million RTKs. This is Cathay’s smallest year-over-year increase in seventeen months, since it began a trend of mostly double-digit growth in March 2014 (falling to single digits in March 2015). For the first eight months of 2015, Cathay’s cargo traffic was up 7.9% to 6.85 billion RTKs. Commenting on the August results, Cathay Pacific General Manager Cargo Sales & Marketing Mark Sutch said: “August is traditionally one of the quieter months for our air cargo business and that proved to be the case last month. We operated more capacity than in August 2014 but the tonnage carried improved only marginally while the load factor fell, highlighting the overall weakness of demand. Looking ahead we expect to see a traditional winter peak. In those markets where we face stronger competition and capacity growth, we have the ability to leverage strong network feed over our hub to maintain good loads on our long-haul trunk routes at a sustained yield.”

Hong Kong International Airport reported cargo volume down 1.2% y-o-y in August to 365,000 tonnes, a marginally better result than July’s 1.9% decline. Export volume slipped 0.6% to 232,000 tonnes, and import volume was down 2.2% to 132,000 tonnes. After beginning the year on a positive note – combined January/February volume was up 7.2% – HKIA has seen year-over-year declines in every month since, and for the year through August reported its handle effectively flat (up 0.2%) with 2014 at 2.83 million tonnes.

Beijing-based Air China continues to report exceptionally strong demand growth, with August cargo traffic up 16.8% y-o-y to 546 million RTKs. This is the carrier’s thirteenth consecutive month of double-digit demand growth, with y-o-y growth of more than 20% in most of those months. Air China’s cargo traffic for the first seven months of 2015 was up 23.1% to 4.29 billion RTKs. The August growth was driven by a 22.4% increase in international traffic to 413 million RTKs, while domestic traffic rose 3.6% to 124 million RTKs.

Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines reported August cargo traffic up 17.0% y-o-y, to 509 million RTKs. International traffic was up 26.8% to 368 million RTKs, while domestic traffic rose 10.8% to 138 million RTKs. For the first eight months of 2015, China Southern’s cargo traffic was up 11.0% to 3.55 billion RTKs.

Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines reported August cargo traffic down 11.6% y-o-y to 375 million RTKs, very similar to July’s 11.1% decline, and the latest in a series of ups and downs that has left the carrier’s cargo traffic for the first eight months of 2015 up 0.8% to 3.16 billion RTKs. China Eastern’s international cargo traffic in August was down 15.9% to 285 million RTKs, while domestic traffic was up 7.7% to 79 million RTKs.

Taiwan-based EVA Air reported August cargo traffic down 12.4% y-o-y to 299 million RTKs. For the eight months of 2015 through August, EVA’s cargo traffic was down 7.8% to 2.47 billion RTKs.

Taiwan-based China Airlines (CAL) reported August cargo traffic down 5.0% y-o-y to 435 million RTKs. For the first half of 2015, CAL’s cargo traffic was up 3.2% to 3.64 billion RTKs.

Shanghai Pudong International Airport Cargo Terminals Co. Ltd (Pactl, the biggest cargo handler at PVG): reported its August handle up 4.9% y-o-y to 134,000 tonnes. International volume in August was almost flat y-o-y (up 0.4%) to 126,000 tonnes, while the much smaller domestic volume rose 5.5% to 8,000 tonnes. For the first eight months of 2015, Pactl’s handle was up 9.6% to 1.03 million tonnes.

Singapore Airlines reported August cargo traffic almost flat (down 0.1%) y-o-y at 520 million RTKs. For the year through August, SIA’[s cargo traffic was up slightly (0.8%) compared to the same period in 2014, but this is almost entirely the result of a 17% increase in February, as the carrier has recorded declining traffic in all but one other month.

Europe & Middle East

Lufthansa Cargo reported August traffic down 5.5% y-o-y to 676 million RTKs. For the Lufthansa Group as a whole, July cargo traffic was down 5.7% to 805 million RTKs. The decline reflects negative results on all three major trade lanes, with Group cargo traffic down 4.7% on the trans-Atlantic lane to 353 million RTKS, down 6.5% on the Asia-Europe lane to 361 million RTKs, and down 7.9% on the Middle East/Africa lane to 63 million RTKs. The August decline reflects the gradual acceleration of the trend of year-over-year declines that began 18 months ago, and leaves Lufthansa Cargo’s traffic for the first eight months of 2015 down 1.5% from the same period last year at 5.53 billion RTKs. For the Lufthansa Group, cargo traffic through August was down 1.7% to 6.58 billion RTKs.

Air France-KLM continues to report dismal cargo results, with traffic down 8.9% y-o-y in July to 759 million RTKs – a slight improvement on the 10.4% y-o-y decline in July. For the year through August, AF-KLM’s cargo traffic was down 9.7% to 6.61 billion RTKs.

International Airlines Group reported August cargo traffic down 4.8% y-o-y to 417 million RTKs. Subsidiary carrier Iberia turned in a good performance, with cargo traffic up 9.1% to 84 million RTKs, but this was not enough to compensate for a 7.8% drop at IAG’s larger British Airways subsidiary to 333 million RTKs. For the first eight months of 2015, IAG Cargo’s traffic was down 3.9% to 3.45 billion RTKs.

Turkish Airlines reported August cargo volume up 17.6% y-o-y to 62,000 tonnes. This is the fourth month of double-digit growth after the carrier started the year with four months of low-single-digit gains, and leaves Turkish’s volume for the first eight months of 2015 up 10.5% to 427,000 tonnes.

Frankfurt Airport (FRA) reported its August cargo handle down 4.2% y-o-y to 172,000 tonnes. For 2015 through August, FRA’s handle was down 2.2% to 1.39 million tonnes.

London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) reported its August handle down 0.2% y-o-y to 123,000 tonnes, a significant improvement over July’s 5.4% decline. For the first eight months of 2015, LHR’s handle was up 0.8% to 886,000 tonnes.


Cargo traffic continued to fall steeply at Chile-headquartered LATAM Airlines Group, which reported August traffic down 12.9% y-o-y to 299 million RTKs. The company said cargo traffic continued to be “weak in August, particularly in the Brazil domestic and international markets.” For the first eight months of 2015, LATAM’s cargo traffic was down 11.4% to 2.49 billion RTKs.

United Airlines reported August cargo traffic up 3.8% to 309 million RTKs, continuing a period of growth growth that began in late 2013. For the year through August, United’s cargo traffic was up 7.4% to 2.52 billion RTKs.

American Airlines reported August cargo traffic up 3.2% to 277 million RTKs. For the first eight months of 2015, American’s cargo traffic was down 0.7% to 2.23 billion RTKs.

Delta Air Lines reported August cargo traffic down 13.6% y-o-y to 270 million RTKs. For the year through August, Delta’s cargo traffic was down 5.1% to 2.15 billion RTKs.

Get more air cargo insights at the 2015 Cargo Facts Symposium, Oct. 26-28 in Miami. Click here for details.

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