After a series of years with disappointing peak-season demand, data from the first ten months of 2016 is providing convincing evidence that this year is different. Cargo Facts has been expecting a strong finish to the year since October, when we received word that peak season charters were already starting to sell-out. Then last month, as carrier’s began to release their cargo traffic results for the month of October, we continued to see strong growth in the range of 7% over 2015 levels. This figure has since been confirmed by data from WorldACD and IATA. WorldACD reported a 6.2% gain, y-o-y in chargeable weight, and 7.4% when using its new “Direct Tonne Kilometers” metric. IATA figures meanwhile, were rosier, showing a 9.2% year-over-year increase in worldwide cargo traffic (in freight tonne kilometers flown). International cargo traffic, which accounts for 87% of total traffic, was up 8.2%.
Ask any forwarder, carrier or airport their thoughts regarding this year’s peak, and almost unanimously they will tell you that that the industry is in the midst of the strongest peak season since before the 2008 financial crisis. While we await concrete data, here are a few trends to report from around the globe:
- Multi-day backlogs are now growing at major Chinese gateways, particularly in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Additional charters ex- Zhengzhou have been added to cope with strains on these backlogs.
- Rates spiked 20-40% compared to earlier this year, but have since come down as additional charters have been added.
- With Chinese New Year falling early on 28 January, many forwarders are bullish that peak demand may continue into much of January.
Northern Asia is not the only region of the world witnessing a significant boost in air freight traffic. Canada’s leading provider of time sensitive overnight air cargo, Cargojet, says that it is preparing for record peak season, much of which is driven by e-commerce growth. Ajay Virmani, president and CEO said, “All of our major customers have given us extremely heavy and challenging Peak demands and forecasts. Cargojet’s overnight network is able to expand capacity as demand increases and we are fully prepared to meet our customer’s peak shipping season requirements to ensure all shipments are flown to various destinations to meet holiday deliveries.”
Cross-border e-commerce has also been cited as providing impetus for peak season demand. On the other side of the Atlantic, IAG Cargo reported its cargo volumes swelled by 41% in October, compared to 2015 levels. David Shepherd, Commercial Director at IAG Cargo said that this year, the Indian market was driving peak season at IAG Cargo. “Not only have we seen an increase in the number of consignments being carried, we’ve also seen increases in the average weight of those consignments. This strong start to the peak is being driven, to a significant extent, by the cross-border growth of e-commerce which has meant a corresponding rise in the need for express shipments,” Shepard said.
In the spirit of peak season, here are a few videos of carriers around the world loading and flying cargo. Let’s hope the businesses continues through January.
First, in celebration of Cargojet’s busiest season yet, here is a 767-300F landing at Ottawa International Airport:
Next, we have a Cathay Pacific 747-400F being loaded in Houston: