May results have begun to come in from some of the world’s big carriers and airports, and so far, the news is generally positive — particularly out of Asia, where two industry bellwethers reported an exceptional month. We will update this post and the accompanying chart as more results are published, but it looks like May will be another month of growth in demand for air freight.
Cathay Pacific Airways reported May cargo traffic up 17.5% y-o-y to 797 million RTKs. After a flat year-over-year performance in January and February, Cathay reported jumps of 19.3% and 17.0% in March and April, and the carrier’s cargo traffic for the first five months of 2014 was up 11.3% to 3.80 billion RTKs. Commenting on the May traffic report, Cathay Pacific General Manager Cargo Sales & Marketing Mark Sutch said: “We saw an upswing in demand out of the key Hong Kong and Mainland China markets in May, though the rumours of major product launches failed to materialise. Demand on the transpacific lanes remained robust, boosted by the beginning of the fruit season out of the US. However, the momentum in Europe continued to be weak and we trimmed back our freighter schedule to the continent accordingly. Intra-Asia demand was generally in line with expectations though exports out of Dhaka continued to be affected by the unrest in Bangladesh.”
Shanghai Pudong International Airport Cargo Terminals Co. Ltd (Pactl, the biggest cargo handler at PVG) reported its May handle up 13.4% to 122,000 tonnes. This follows a 17.4% jump in March and a 13.9%, increase in April, continuing the trend of strong growth seen in the first two months. For May, Pactl’s international volume was up 14.7% to 114,000 tonnes, while the much smaller domestic volume was down 3.8% to 8,000 tonnes (most of Shanghai’s domestic cargo moves through nearby Hongqiao Airport). For the first five months of 2014, Pactl’s handle was up 14.1% to 566,000 tonnes.
Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines reported May cargo traffic down 4.7% y-o-y to 395 million RTKs. International traffic was down 5.7% to 309 million RTKs, while domestic traffic was down 2.4% to 75 million RTKs. For the first five months of 2014, China Eastern’s cargo traffic was up 0.8% to 1.90 billion RTKs.
Europe & Middle East
Lufthansa Cargoreported May traffic up slightly (0.2%) y-o-y to 742 million RTKs. For the Lufthansa Group as a whole, May cargo traffic was up 1.6% to 882 million RTKs. For the first five months of the year, Lufthansa Cargo’s traffic was down 0.8% to 3.44 billion RTKs, while Group cargo traffic was up 0.2% to 3.22 billion RTKs. We point out that the year-to-date show the impact of a three-day strike by the carrier’s pilots in April, which was the main cause of a 10.6% drop in cargo traffic in that month.
Air France-KLM reported May cargo traffic almost flat with last year, down 0.1 % y-o-y to 842 million RTKs. Traffic was up 1.8% on the trans-Atlantic trade lane to 352 million RTKs, but this was not quite enough to offset a 2.9% decline on the Asia-Pacific lane to 314 million RTKs. The May result is in line with the trend of very small declines and gains so far this year, leaving the carrier’s cargo traffic for the first five months of 2014 up 0.9% to 4.13 billion RTKs.
International Airlines Group reported May cargo traffic down 3.3% y‑o‑y to 446 million RTKs. Subsidiary carrier British Airways returned all three of 747-8Fs it leased from Atlas Air in early April, and switched to a block-space deal with Qatar Airways involving a single 777F. That BA’s cargo traffic in May was down just 2.1% after the loss of that much main-deck capacity gives a fairly clear picture of why the carrier was keen to terminate the leases on the three jumbo freighters. For the first five months of 2014, IAG’s cargo traffic was down 1.9% to 2.25 billion RTKs.
Turkish Airlines continues to report exceptionally strong results, with May cargo volume up 26.6% y‑o‑y to 58,000 tonnes. For the year through April, Turkish’s cargo volume was up 25.9% to 271,000 tonnes.
Frankfurt Airport (FRA) reported its May cargo handle up 6.9% y-o-y to 183,000 tonnes. For the first five months of 2014, FRA’s handle was up 3.5% to 877,000 tonnes.
London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) reported its May handle up 6.9% y-o-y to 126,000 tonnes. For the first five months of this year, LHR’s handle was up 3.9% to 578,000 tonnes.
LATAM Airlines Group reported May cargo traffic down 0.7% y-o-y to 364 million RTKs, a good recovery from the steep 11.5% drop reported in April. Commenting on the result, the company said the slight decrease in traffic was “driven by weaker imports into Latin America and a decrease in exports in certain products from the region.” For the first five months of the year, LATAM’s cargo traffic was down 4.0% to 1.80 billion RTKs.
United Airlines reported May cargo traffic up 5.4% to 301 million RTKs. For the year through May United’s cargo traffic was up 6.0% to 1.44 billion RTKs.
Delta Air Lines reported May cargo traffic up 4.24% y-o-y to 291 million RTKs. For the first five months of 2014, Delta’s cargo traffic was down 2.3% to 1.34 billion RTKs.
American Airlines (now including US Airways) continues to reap the benefits of its increased focus on cargo, reporting May cargo traffic up 6.4% y-o-y to 299 million RTKs. For the year through May, American’s cargo traffic was up 10.8% to 1.40 billion RTKs.