First glimpse of December and full-year cargo demand

It will be some time until all the major cargo carriers and handlers have reported their December and full-year statistics, but judging by what we’ve seen from the few that have reported, we feel fairly confident in predicting that the year-over-year growth that began mid-year will continue, and even strengthen, in December; and that growth for the full year of 2013 will likely be about 2% over 2012.

The chart at right shows the cargo performance of Pactl, Etihad Airways, Air France, and Delta Air Lines. It may not be obvious from the chart, but what is clear on examination of each of the individual company’s results is that they are all more or less in line with their trends over the full year. That is, Pactl is continuing a trend of gradually increasing improvement, Etihad is continuing a trend of strong y-o-y gains, and AF-KLM and Delta are continuing their respective trends of moderate and slight declines. If other carriers and handlers also follow their year-long patterns, and anecdotal evidence suggests that most of them will, then we will see a year of gradual improvement, with an overall low-single-digit gain in worldwide cargo traffic. In the meantime, here is a more detailed analysis of the four which have now reported:

Shanghai Pudong International Airport Cargo Terminals Co. Ltd (Pactl, the biggest cargo handler at PVG) reported its December handle up 13.3% y-o-y to 119,000 tonnes. This is the fourth month of steadily increasing y-o-y gains after eight months of mostly disappointing results, and gives some hope that other carriers and airports will also report strengthening cargo volumes. Pactl’s International volume was up 13.6% to 111,000 tonnes, while the much smaller domestic volume rose 9.9% to 8,000 tonnes (most of Shanghai’s domestic cargo moves through nearby Hongqiao Airport). For the full year of 2013, Pactl’s handle was up 3.7% to 1.25 million tonnes.

Etihad Airways reported its December cargo volume up 22.5% y-o-y to 42,000 tonnes. While this looks like a very big gain, it pales in comparison to the 52% increase in November. For the full year, Etihad reported cargo volume up 32% to 487,000 tonnes. Commenting on the strong performance, the carrier said: “Established markets such as China, Hong Kong and India were top performers, in addition to expanding markets such as the Netherlands and the United States.”

Air France-KLM reported December cargo traffic down 3.7% y-o-y to 848 million RTKs. Traffic was down on all major trade lanes, and the December result sees Air France-KLM continuing its long-term pattern of mid-single-digit declines. For the full year of 2013 Air France-KLM’s cargo traffic was down 4.6% to 10.09 billion RTKs.

Delta Air Lines reported December cargo traffic down 1.8% y-o-y to 276 million RTKs. For the full year, Delta’s cargo traffic was down 1.4% to 3.43 billion RTKs.


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