Yes, July was great, but what about August?

Three weeks ago, based on reports of July performance from some of the world’s big cargo carriers and airports, we predicted that when WorldACD and IATA released their comprehensive analyses in early September, we would see worldwide demand for air freight in July up between 11% and 12% y-o-y. Late last week, WorldACD reported year-over-year volume growth (measured in chargeable weight) of 11.8% for the month, and traffic growth (in direct tonne kilometers flown) of 11.9%.

Yesterday, IATA released its analysis, confirming our prediction and WorldACD’s numbers. According to IATA, total worldwide cargo traffic (measured in revenue tonne kilometers flown) was up 11.4% y-o-y in July, and international traffic was up 12.9%. These increases were slightly greater than for the year-to-date, which saw total cargo traffic up 10.6% and international traffic up 11.8%.

What jumps out most strongly from the regional breakdown in the chart at right, is that carriers based in Africa saw a tremendous upsurge in demand, reporting their cargo traffic up 33.7% over July 2016, driven by an almost 80% increase in traffic between Asia and Africa. (Of course, since African carriers account for less than 2% of the worldwide total, this does not have much impact on the overall numbers.)

North American carriers also saw exceptional growth in international demand, with traffic up 18.7%.

But July is old news now, so what about August?

Anecdotal evidence to date indicates continuing strong demand growth, and we can now back that up with the first report from a major player: Shanghai Pudong International Airport Cargo Terminal Co Ltd (Pactl, the biggest handler at Shanghai’s Pudong Airport) reported its August handle up 13.9% y-o-y to 157,000 tonnes, its second-best monthly result this year. International volume for the month was up 14.7% to 148,000 tonnes, while the much smaller domestic volume was up 2.4% to 8,000 tonnes (most of Shanghai’s domestic cargo moves through nearby Hongqiao Airport). For the first eight months of 2017, Pactl’s handle was up 12.6% to 1.19 million tonnes.

One thing to keep in mind when considering what Pactl’s performance says about the rest of the world is that the Civil Aviation Authority of China has place Shanghai Pudong International (PVG) under a ban against adding new routes or additional flights. So, if, as many reports indicate, demand for charters ex-China is strengthening, those charters will have to originate from airports other than PVG (or Beijing Capital, which is under a similar ban).

To learn more about demand in the third quarter, and hear top industry executives’ thoughts on the future, join us at the Cargo Facts Symposium in Miami, 2 – 4 October, To register, or for more information, go to

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