A month of broken cargo records

In yesterday’s post about the strength of air freight demand in November, we noted that two of the companies reporting – Hong Kong International Airport and Etihad Airways – achieved record volumes. But that turns out to be only the tip of this particular iceberg, as records continued to fall.

Cargolux: Luxembourg-based all-cargo carrier Cargolux reported all-time record performance in cargo volume, block hours flown, and cycles in November. November cargo volume was up 3.1% over November 2013 to 76,504 tonnes, an all-time monthly record, and Cargolux said volume for the year through November was up 10.5%.  The carrier said it flew 10,224 block hours in the month, up 8.7% y-o-y, and the first time in the company’s history that it has exceeded 10,000 hours in a single month. Likewise, Cargolux set a new record for cycles flown in a month, with the carrier’s twenty-two unit freighter fleet flying 1,766 cycles in November. One category in which Cargolux did not set a record was utilization rate, but even so, the carrier’s daily aircraft utilization rate of 15.52 hours is one of the highest in the industry.

Cathay Pacific: Another carrier that may have broken an all time record was Cathay Pacific Airways. In its November report, Cathay did not claim any records, but Cargo Facts cannot remember Cathay – or any carrier for that matter – ever reporting monthly cargo traffic of 1 billion RTKs. Okay, Cathay actually didn’t achieve 1 billion, but 998 million is very close to 1 billion, and while we don’t know for sure, we expect this is a record performance for Cathay, and may be a record for any carrier. Emirates may already have broken the 1 billion RTK barrier, but since it does not report monthly traffic data, we do not know for sure.

Hong Kong International Airport: HKIA reported cargo volume in November up 5.5% y-o-y to 421,000 tonnes – an all-time record for a single month. Commenting on the November results, HKIA said: “This is the first time HKIA has handled over 400,000 tonnes of cargo in a single month. This achievement further solidifies HKIA’s position as the world’s busiest cargo airport. Boosted by the seasonal surge in both cargo shipments and passenger traffic demand, we expect across-the-board growth in traffic volume to continue as we approach the end of the year, setting new annual records for all traffic categories.”

Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi-based Etihad reported November cargo volume up 7.20% y-o-y to 53,000 tonnes, an all time monthly record. For the first eleven months of 2014, Etihad’s cargo volume was up 17.0% to 518,000 tonnes. Worth noting is that the gains in volume do not appear to be coming at the expense of yield, as Etihad has consistently reported cargo revenue growth on par with, or greater than, the growth in volume. Looking ahead, the carrier said it expected total cargo volume for 2014 of more than 570,000 tonnes, a 17% increase on 2013.

And one last record… Turning away from containers and pallets and looking at the aircraft they fly in, we note that US-based Aeronautical Engineers, Inc this week redelivered its 400th freighter-converted aircraft. It was a 737-400, originally ordered and operated by Alaska Airlines, but now owned by Vx Capital Partners who will lease it to TNT Airways. AEI performed its first passenger-to-freighter conversion – of a DC-6 – forty-three years ago, in 1971.


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