While many of the world’s major cargo carriers and airports reported lackluster results in May, a quick glance at the chart at right shows that one carrier – Russia’s AirBridgeCargo Airlines – continued its standout performance of recent years, with strong double-digit gains.
But, given the gloomy results reported by most of the other big players, we expect that when IATA and WorldACD publish their comprehensive May data in two weeks, we will see worldwide cargo traffic either flat with May 2015, or slightly down.
Now for the details…
Cathay Pacific Airways reported May cargo traffic down 4.6% to 833 million RTKs. Tonnage for the month was down just 1.3%, indicating that shorter routes performed better than longer ones. Discussing the May results, Cathay’s General Manager Cargo Sales & Marketing Mark Sutch said: “May saw a further stabilization in the tonnage being shipped out of some of our key markets, in particular Mainland China, Northeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific. As per the previous number of months, demand into India remained robust, and we have increased capacity into the region to cater for this accordingly. The freightage yield, however, has continued to remain under intense pressure in what continues to be a challenging and capacity-rich air cargo environment.” For the first five months of this year, Cathay’s cargo traffic was down 3.7% to 4.11 billion RTKs.
Hong Kong International Airport reported cargo volume in May down 1.1% y-o-y to 362,000 tonnes. Import volume was down 0.7% to 133,000 tonnes, and export volume fell 1.2% to 229,000 tonnes This is two months of small gains, and leaves HKG’s handle for the first five months of 2016 down 2.1% to 1.75 million tonnes. Commenting on the May results, HKIA said: “Traffic to / from key trading regions in North America registered the most significant drop during the month.”
Beijing-based Air China reported its May cargo traffic up 3.9% y-o-y to 590 million RTKs. The gain was driven by a 3.3% increase in International traffic to 445 million RTKs, and a bigger jump of 6.3% in domestic traffic 135 million RTKs. The much smaller regional traffic was down 3.8% to 10 million RTKs. For the five months of 2016 to date, Air China’s cargo traffic was up 4.7% to 2.73 billion RTKs.
Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines reported May cargo traffic down 2.5% y-o-y to 507 million RTKs, only the fifth monthly decline in the last four years – four years in which most months have seen China Southern reporting double-digit y-o-y increases in cargo traffic. The May 2016 results were dragged down by a 4.5% fall in international cargo traffic to 360 million RTKs, while domestic traffic rose 2.6% to 145 million RTKs. For the first five months of 2016, China Southern’s cargo traffic was up 12.8% to 2.39 billion RTKs.
Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines, continues to significantly underperform its Chines rivals, reporting May cargo traffic down 5.6% y-o-y to 400 million RTKs. International traffic was down 6.3% to 313 million RTKs while the smaller domestic traffic was down 3.2% for the month to 77 million RTK. For the first five months of 2016, China Eastern’s cargo traffic was down 6.3% to 1.91 billion RTKs.
Shanghai Pudong International Airport Cargo Terminal Co Ltd (Pactl, the biggest handler at Shanghai’s Pudong Airport) reported a 1.1% y-o-y increase in its May cargo handle to 137,000 tonnes. This is the third month of positive growth following lackluster results in the first two months, when Pactl’s handle was down 1.6%, and brings the total handle for the first five months of 2016 to 632,000 tonnes, up 1.8% over 1Q15. International cargo in May was up 1.2% to 127,000 tonnes, while the much smaller domestic handle was down slightly (0.8%) to 9.000 tonnes (most of Shanghai’s domestic cargo moves through nearby Hongqiao Airport).
Singapore Airlines reported May cargo traffic up 4.7% y-o-y to 556 million RTKs. For the first five months of this year, SIA’s cargo traffic was up 3.8% to 2.73 billion RTKs.
Taiwan-based EVA Air reported May cargo traffic down 1.9% y-o-y to 298 million RTKs. While this may not seem a very good result, we point out that it is a considerable improvement on the double-digit declines EVA has been reporting for much of the past two years. For the first five months of 2016, EVA’s cargo traffic was down 11.3% to 1.56 billion RTKs.
Europe & Middle East
Lufthansa may have had positive results in April, but in May, Europe’s biggest cargo carrier reverted to its recent trend of declines, reporting Group cargo traffic for the month down 2.9% y-o-y to 827 million RTKs. While traffic to/from the Asia-Pacific region was up 4.5% to 378 million RTKs, the total was dragged down by steep drops on the trans-Atlantic (down 8.9% to 353 million RTKs) and to/from the Middle East/Africa (down 12.9% to 63 million RTKs). For the first five months of this year, Lufthansa’s cargo traffic was down 3.7% to 3.93 billion RTKs.
Air France-KLM, like Lufthansa, reported positive growth in cargo demand in April (albeit just 0.9%), but has now reverted to its two-year trend of decline, reporting May traffic down 5.8% to 698 million RTKs. For the year through May, AF-KLM’s cargo traffic was down 7.1% to 3.44 billion RTKs.
International Airlines Group reported May cargo traffic up 0.7% y-o-y to 453 million RTKs. For 2016 through May, IAG’s cargo traffic was down 1.2% to 2.23 billion RTKs.
AirBridgeCargo was the star of the air cargo show in May, as it has been for all of 2016. The Russia-based all-cargo carrier reported May cargo volume up 31% to 50,482 tonnes. ABC said cargo traffic for the month was up 21%, but did not provide the number of RTKs flown. For the first five months of the year, the story was the same – cargo volume was up 31% to 238,154 tonnes, and cargo traffic was up 24%.
Turkish Airlines reported May cargo volume up 5.5% y-o-y to 69,000 tonnes, continuing its long-standing pattern of solid gains. For the first five months of 2016, Turkish’s cargo volume was up 9.7% to 314,000 tonnes.
Frankfurt Airport (FRA) reported its May cargo handle down 1.3% y-o-y to 178,000 tonnes. For the first five months of 2016, FRA’s handle was up slightly (0.2%) to 866 million tonnes.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport reported its May handle down 2.3% to 135,000 tonnes. For 2016 through May, AMS’ handle was up 1.4% to 661,000 tonnes.
London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) reported its May handle up 3.7% y-o-y to 130,000 tonnes. For the first five months of 2016, LHR’s handle was up 1.6% to 629,000 tonnes.
Cargo traffic continued to fall at Chile-headquartered LATAM Airlines Group, which reported May traffic down 11.9% y-o-y to 267 million RTKs. For the first five months of 2016, LATAM’s cargo traffic was down 11.0% to 1.42 billion RTKs.
United Airlines reported May cargo traffic up 7.9% y-o-y to 333 million RTKs, its second consecutive month of positive results after a shaky start to the year. For 2016 through May, United’s cargo traffic was down 1.2% to 1.57 billion RTKs.
American Airlines Group reported May cargo traffic up 2.4% y-o-y to 298 million RTKs. For the first five months of this year, American’s cargo traffic was up slightly (0.6%) to 1.39 billion RTKs.
Delta Air Lines reported May cargo traffic down 9.9% y-o-y to 239 million RTKs. For the year through May, Delta’s cargo traffic was down 12.0% to 1.17 billion RTKs.