Double-digit demand growth continues in July

July results are now in from many of the world’s major cargo carriers and airports, and it appears that growth in demand for air freight is continuing to be very strong. Some carriers and airports saw better results in July than in June, while others reported smaller gains, but the overall picture is similar. We expect that when IATA and WorldACD publish their detailed analyses of cargo traffic worldwide in two weeks, we will see growth continuing in double digits, probably up around 11% or 12%, year-over-year.

Now for the details…

Asia Pacific

Cathay Pacific Airways reported July cargo traffic up 11.0 % y-o-y to 1.03 billion RTKs, one of its largest year-over-year gains in 2017. For the first seven months of the year, Cathay’s cargo traffic was up 9.2% to 6.47 billion RTKs.

Discussing the results, Cathay’s Director Commercial and Cargo Ronald Lam said: “Our cargo business continued to show strong momentum, which has been driven by increased demand in our key markets. Our strategic partnership with Atlas Air Worldwide has allowed us to increase freighter capacity to capture some of this demand. Tonnage growth was well ahead of capacity growth in July, with both inbound and outbound sectors to and from Hong Kong performing well. Overall cargo yield continued its positive improvement trend.”

Hong Kong International Airport reported cargo volume in July up 11.0% y-o-y to 422,000 tonnes, continuing this year’s pattern of strong volume growth. For the first seven months of 2017, HKIA’s cargo handle was up 11.2% to 2.7 million tonnes. Commenting on the results, HKIA said: “Coinciding with an improvement in global trade, exports continued to lead the strong growth in cargo throughput. Exports experienced 15% growth while transshipments also rose by 10% during the month. Amongst key trading regions, Europe recorded the most significant increase.”

Beijing-based Air China reported July cargo traffic up 9.4% y-o-y, to 650 million RTKs, its second-best result this year (its traffic was up 9.7% in May). International traffic was up 12.2% over June 2016, to 515 million RTKs, but the total was dragged down by a 1.1% decline in domestic traffic to 126 million RTKs. The much smaller regional traffic was up 16.2% to 9.3 million RTKs. For the year through July, Air China’s cargo traffic was up 6.7% to 4.18 billion RTKs.

Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines reported July cargo traffic up 9.1% y-o-y to 559 million RTKs. This is well down from the 20% year-over-year growth China Southern has posted in the last two months, but still leaves the carrier’s cargo traffic up 16.0% for the year through July. International traffic remained strong in July, up 13.5% y-o-y to 429 million RTKs, but a 4.5% drop in domestic traffic to 128 million RTKs brought the total down.

Shanghai Pudong International Airport Cargo Terminal Co Ltd (Pactl, the biggest handler at Shanghai’s Pudong Airport) reported a 14.4% y-o-y increase in its July cargo handle to 155,000 tonnes, its best monthly result this year. International volume for the month was up 15.8% to 152,000 tonnes, while the much smaller domestic volume was down 7.9% to 8,000 tonnes (most of Shanghai’s domestic cargo moves through nearby Hongqiao Airport). For the first seven months of 2017, Pactl’s handle was up 12.4% to 1.03 million tonnes.

Singapore Airlines reported July cargo traffic up 3.8% y-o-y to 589 million RTKs – following a pattern of no pattern in a year that has seen year-over-year change in cargo traffic vary unpredictably between almost no growth at all (up 0.9% in the combined January/February) to a gain of 10.1% in May. For the year through July SIA’s cargo traffic was up 4.6% to 4.02 billion RTKs.

Taiwan-based China Airlines reported July cargo traffic up 15.6% y-o-y to 506 million RTKs, the twelfth consecutive month of increased traffic after a long period of declining demand and the biggest monthly year-over-year jump in that period. And cargo revenue is soaring – up 29.8% y-o-y in June. Year-to-date, CAL’s cargo traffic was up 6.7% to 3.18 billion RTKs, and cargo revenue was up 18.7%.

Taiwan-based EVA Air reported July cargo traffic up 9.3% y-o-y to 340 million RTKs, the carrier’s fourteenth consecutive positive result after a long period of declines. As is the case with fellow-Taiwanese carrier China Airlines, EVA’s cargo revenue is growing much more strongly than its traffic – up 21.8% y-o-y in July. For the first seven months of the year, EVA’s cargo traffic was up 5.9% to 2.11 billion RTKs, while cargo revenue rose 10.6%.

South Korea’s Incheon Airport reported its July cargo handle up 6.7%, to 245,000 tonnes. For the first seven months of 2017, ICN’s handle was up 9.2% to 1.65 million tonnes.

Europe & Middle East

The demand recovery at Lufthansa that started in July and August last year, continued through the first seven months of 2017, with the carrier reporting Group cargo traffic up 8.4% y-o-y in July to 931 million RTKs. The growth was the result of an 8.4% increase on the Asia-Pacific lane to 427 million RTKs, and a 7.9% increase on the trans-Atlantic lane to 403 million RTKs. The big surprise in Lufthansa’s July report was that traffic to/from the Middle East and Africa rose 15.6% to 70 million RTKs. The company did not comment on the reason for the big jump in demand, but one possibility is that the increase is related to the blockade of Qatar imposed by other Middle East countries. For the first seven months of this year, Lufthansa’s Group cargo traffic was up 8.1% to 6.15 billion RTKs.

Air France-KLM reported July cargo traffic up slightly (0.7%) y-o-y to 704 million RTKs – the fifth consecutive month of positive growth after several years of declines. Of the two carriers in the group, Air France reported its July traffic up 4.6% to 314 million RTKs, while KLM reported a decline of 2.3% to 390 million RTKs. For the year to date through July, AF-KLM’s cargo traffic was up 1.5% to 4.89 billion RTKs.

International Airlines Group reported July cargo traffic up 6.7% y-o-y to 477 million RTK. Subsidiary carrier British Airways reported July cargo up 7.6% to 369 million RTKs and Spain-based Iberia’s cargo was up 4.3% to 88 million. Ireland-based Aer Lingus reported July cargo traffic flat with July 2016 at 11 million RTKs. For the first seven months of 2017, IAG’s cargo traffic was up 5.2% to 3.26 billion RTKs.

Turkish Airlines reported July cargo volume up an astonishing 39.5% y-o-y to 99,000 tonnes. We have become used to seeing big gains at Turkish, but more in the range of 15% to 20%. The previous three months – April through June – were higher, between 30% and 34%, but the July increase of almost 40% is the biggest monthly year-over-year gain by any major airline since we have been tracking these numbers. It pushes Turkish’s cargo volume for the first seven months of this year up 27.8%  to 615,000 tonnes.

Frankfurt Airport (FRA) reported its cargo handle up 4.2% y-o-y to 188,000 tonnes in July. For the first seven months of 2017, FRA’s handle was up 4.7% to 1.28 million tonnes.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport reported its July handle up 6.5% y-o-y to 149,000 tonnes. For the first half of the year, Schiphol’s handle was up 8.4% to 1.02 million tonnes.

London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) reported its July handle up 15.1% to 143,000 tonnes. Year-to-date, LHR’s handle was up 10.0%, to 967,000 tonnes.


After years of declines, Chile-headquartered LATAM Airlines Group reported its third consecutive month of increasing air freight demand, with cargo traffic up 0.8% in July to 276 million RTKs. However, for the year to date, LATAM is still down 3.1% compared to 2017While this is a welcome change, it still leaves LATAM’s cargo traffic for the first six months of 2017 down 3.7% to 1.61 billion RTKs.

United Airlines reported July cargo traffic up 17.1% y-o-y to 407 million RTKs, its sixteenth consecutive month of strong gains. Year-to-date, United’s cargo traffic was up 20.5% to 2.71 billion RTKs.

American Airlines Group reported July cargo traffic up 21.9% y-o-y to 358 million RTKs. For the first seven months of this year, American’s cargo traffic was up 15.69% to 2.29 billion RTKs.

The turnaround plan at Delta Air Lines continues to pay off. The Atlanta-based carrier reported July cargo traffic up 19.2% y-o-y to 296 million RTKs – its fourth consecutive monthly y-o-y gain after years of declining demand. This brings Delta’s cargo traffic for the year to 1.79 billion RTKs, up 7.8% over the first seven months of 2016.

Join us at the Cargo Facts Symposium in Miami, 2 – 4 October, to hear thoughts about the future from senior air freight executives from all regions, and all types of carriers. To register, or for more information, go to The “early bird” registration rate ends tomorrow, 18 August.

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