First look at August cargo results

August results are now in from some 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 August than in July, 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% year-over-year.

Now for the details…

Asia Pacific

Beijing-based Air China reported August cargo traffic up 7.8% y-o-y, to 641 million RTKs. International traffic was up 10.1% over August 2016, to 498 million RTKs, but the total was dragged down by a 0.7% decline in domestic traffic to 132 million RTKs. The much smaller regional traffic was up 22.1% to 9.8 million RTKs. For the year through August, Air China’s cargo traffic was up 6.8% to 4.82 billion RTKs.

Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines reported August cargo traffic up 20.0% y-o-y to 573 million RTKs. This is a return to the 20% year-over-year growth China Southern posted in May and June, and well up from the 10% gain in July. International traffic growth was particularly strong in August, up 30.3% y-o-y to 431 million RTKs, but a 3.6% drop in domestic traffic to 140 million RTKs brought the total down. For the year through August, China Southern’s cargo traffic was up 16.5% to 4.53 billion RTKs.

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 (Pactl handles very little of PVG’s domestic cargo). For the first eight months of 2017, Pactl’s handle was up 12.6% to 1.19 million tonnes.

Taiwan-based China Airlines reported August cargo traffic up 12.4% y-o-y to 498 million RTKs, the twelfth consecutive month of increased traffic after a long period of declining demand and the second-biggest monthly year-over-year jump in that period. And cargo revenue is soaring – up 26.6% y-o-y in August. Year-to-date, CAL’s cargo traffic was up 7.5% to 3.68 billion RTKs, and cargo revenue was up 19.8%.

Taiwan-based EVA Air reported August cargo traffic up 6.8% y-o-y to 327 million RTKs, the carrier’s fifteenth 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 16.6% y-o-y in August. For the first eight months of the year, EVA’s cargo traffic was up 6.0% to 2.44 billion RTKs, while cargo revenue rose 11.3%.

South Korea’s Incheon Airport reported its August cargo handle up 9.6%, to 238,000 tonnes. For the first eight months of 2017, ICN’s handle was up 9.3% to 1.89 million tonnes.

Europe & Middle East

Lufthansa reported Group cargo traffic up 9.8% y-o-y in August to 901 million RTKs on capacity that was up 2.3%. Load factors for the month were 4.5 pts higher, to 66.4%. The growth was the result of robust growth on all regions Lufthansa serves, except the region Europe.  Asia Pacific and North America, the two regions which comprise the majority of Lufthansa’s cargo traffic, reported increases of 8.1% and 12.1% y-o-y, respectively. The regions Europe, and the Middle East/Africa, which represent a much smaller fraction of the carrier’s overall cargo traffic, saw mixed results in August. Traffic originating or ending up in Europe dropped 4.3%, while traffic to and from the Middle East/Africa rose 4.9%. For the first eight months of this year, Lufthansa’s Group cargo traffic was up 8.2% to 7.05 billion RTKs.

Air France-KLM Martinair reported August cargo traffic up 1.2% y-o-y to 707 million RTKs – the sixth consecutive month of positive growth after several years of declines. Air France reported August traffic up 7.0% to 306 million RTKs, while KLM reported a decline of 2.8% to 401 million RTKs. From a load factor and capacity perspective, however, KLM continues to outperform Air France. Despite falling traffic in annual comparisons for the month of August, KLM saw a 2.8% contraction in capacity (measured in ATKs), which led to a load factor that was .5 pts higher at 63.3%. Air France, meanwhile, boosted capacity by 1.3%. Combined with higher traffic, Air France load factors were 2.6 pts higher at 48.7%. For the year to date through August, AF-KLM’s cargo traffic was up 1.4% to 5.6 billion RTKs on AFTK capacity that was equal to last year.

International Airlines Group reported August cargo traffic up 7.6% y-o-y to 470 million RTK. Subsidiary carrier British Airways reported August cargo up 6.4% to 367 million RTKs and Spain-based Iberia’s cargo was up 10.8% to 92 million. Ireland-based Aer Lingus reported August cargo traffic up 22.2% to 11 million RTKs. For the first eight months of 2017, IAG’s cargo traffic was up 5.5% to 3.73 billion RTKs.

Frankfurt Airport (FRA) reported its cargo handle up 5.4% y-o-y to 181,000 tonnes in August. For the first eight months of 2017, FRA’s handle was up 4.8% to 1.47 million tonnes.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport reported its August handle up 7.6% y-o-y to 147,000 tonnes. For the first eight months of the year, Schiphol’s handle was up 8.3% to 1.16 million tonnes.

London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) reported its August handle up 13.1% to 139,000 tonnes. Year-to-date, LHR’s handle was up 10.3%, to 1.11 million tonnes.


United Airlines reported August cargo traffic up 17.3% y-o-y to 395 million RTKs, its seventeenth consecutive month of strong gains. Year-to-date, United’s cargo traffic was up 20.1% to 3.10 billion RTKs.

American Airlines Group reported August cargo traffic up 22.9% y-o-y to 346 million RTKs. For the first eight months of this year, American’s cargo traffic was up 16.5% to 2.63 billion RTKs.

The turnaround plan at Delta Air Lines continues to pay off. The Atlanta-based carrier reported August cargo traffic up 19.4% y-o-y to 284 million RTKs – its fifth consecutive monthly y-o-y gain after years of declining demand. This brings Delta’s cargo traffic for the year to 1.90 billion RTKs, up 9.2% over the first seven months of 2016.



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