Cargo is alive and well at Etihad and American

It will be another month before first-half financial and operational results are in from most of the world’s major carriers, but Etihad Airways has already set the bar high, reporting cargo volume up 25% and cargo revenue up 27%.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier said cargo volume in the half rose from 215,000 tonnes in 1H13 to 269,000 tonnes this year. Etihad did not provide a cargo revenue figure, but did say that cargo revenue rose 27%, which is an indication that the increased volume did not come at the expense of yield.

Etihad currently operates seven freighters of its own, including three 777Fs as well as four A330 freighters. In addition, the carrier ACMI leases one 747-8F and one 747-400F from Atlas Air, and one 747-400ERF from Air France-KLM’s Martinair subsidiary. It has one more 777F and two more A330-200Fs on order.

On the other side of the world, American Airlines is also posting record cargo results. Through May of this year, the carrier reported cargo traffic up almost 11% over the same period in 2013, and American said its cargo operations were on pace to generate more than $800 million in revenue this year.

To put that number in perspective, cargo revenue fell 4.8% from $709 million in 2011 to $675 million in 2012, and rose only 1.5% to $685 million last year. If revenue does hit $800 million this year, that would be a 17% jump. And as is the case at Etihad, it would indicate that cargo yield is rising, rather than falling or staying flat as is the case at many airlines.

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