Air freight demand continues to grow in November

november-2016-stats-v2Many of the world’s major cargo carriers and airports have reported their November results, with gains appearing almost as strong as they were in October, making November look like a very good month.

Strikes at Lufthansa impacted not only the carrier, but also its main hub at Frankfurt (FRA), and neither Cathay Pacific nor Hong Kong International have reported November data yet, but, based on results so for, we expect that when IATA and WorldACD report their worldwide summaries for the month, we will see air freight demand up between 7% and 8%.

Now for the details:

Asia Pacific

Beijing-based Air China reported its November cargo traffic up 11.8% y-o-y to 637 million RTKs. Both domestic and international traffic fared well for the carrier during the month. Domestic traffic rose 12.6% to 156 million RTKs while International traffic meanwhile, rose 11.8% to 472 million RTKs. Regional traffic continued to shrink, dropping 2.7% to 9.3 million RTKs. For the first eleven months of 2016, Air China Cargo’s cargo traffic was up 6.2% to 6.34 billion RTKs.

Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines reported November traffic up 9.3% y-o-y to 645.5 million RTKs. International traffic was up 7.6% to 476 million RTKs, while domestic traffic increased 14% to 168 million RTKs. The much smaller regional traffic continued its upward trend, rising 16.0% to 2.1 million RTKs. For the first eleven months of 2016, China Southern’s cargo traffic was grew 9.2% to 5.62 billion RTKs.

Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines reported November cargo traffic up 4.7% y-o-y to 441 million RTKs, extending its positive growth trend to five consecutive months. International traffic was up 5.4% to 338 million RTKs while the smaller domestic traffic was nearly flat, up 1.0%, to 91 million RTK. For the first eleven months of 2016, China Eastern’s cargo traffic was flat at 4.42 billion RTKs.

Shanghai Pudong International Airport Cargo Terminal Co Ltd (Pactl, the biggest handler at Shanghai’s Pudong Airport) reported an 8.6% y-o-y increase in its November cargo handle, despite the CAAC’s ongoing ban which restricts Pudong from adding new flights. Total handle in November grew to 159,000 tonnes. This was the ninth month of positive growth for PACTL, which put its total handle for the first eleven months of 2016 up 3.7% over 2015, to 1.51 million tonnes.  International cargo handle in November meanwhile, was up 8.6% to 148,000 tonnes, while the much smaller domestic handle jumped 15.3% to 10,300 tonnes (most of Shanghai’s domestic cargo moves through nearby Hongqiao Airport).

Taiwan-based China Airlines reported November cargo traffic up 5.1% y-o-y to 477 million RTKs, reversing its long-term trend of declining demand. For the year through November, CAL’s cargo traffic was still negative, down 2.4% to 4.82 billion RTKs.

Taiwan-based EVA Air reported November cargo traffic up 7.9% y-o-y to 318 million RTKs, its sixth consecutive positive result after a year-and-a-half of declines.  For the first eleven months of 2016, EVA’s cargo traffic was still down 3.1% to 3.25 billion RTKs.

Europe & Middle East

Demand recovery at Lufthansa that started in July and August continued into November, with Group cargo traffic up 2.8% y-o-y for the month, to 877 million RTKs. The growth was led by a 6.0% increase in traffic on the trans-Atlantic lane which grew to 372 million RTKs. The carrier’s other major trade lane, connecting Europe to the Asia-Pacific region, did not do quite so well, but was still in growth territory, with traffic up 1.6% to 410 million RTKs. Traffic to/from the Middle East and Africa was down 4.6% to 64 million RTKs. For the first eleven months of 2016, Lufthansa’s cargo traffic was up 0.8% over the same period in 2015 at 9.22 billion RTKs.

Air France-KLM continued its multi-year trend of declines, reporting November cargo traffic down 6.6% to 711 million RTKs. For the year through November, AF-KLM’s cargo traffic was down 6.7% to 7.70 billion RTKs. Of the two carriers in the group, Air France actually reported modest growth in air freight demand, with November traffic up 2.9% to 308 million RTKs, but this was negated at the group level by a 12.8% drop at KLM, to 403 million RTKs.

International Airlines Group, reported November cargo traffic up slightly (0.4%) y-o-y to 484 million RTKs. Year-to-date IAG’s cargo traffic was up 1.0% to 4.97 billion RTKs. Subsidiary carrier British Airways reported November cargo traffic up 2.2% to 375 million RTKs, while Iberia’s cargo traffic fell 5.8 % to 97 million RTKs.

Even as passenger traffic continues to sink, Turkish Airlines cargo arm is tracking an inverse path.  The carrier reported November cargo volume up 20.4% y-o-y to 76,500 tonnes. For the first eleven months of 2016, Turkish Airlines’ cargo handle rose 21% to 791,000 tonnes.


Cargo traffic continued to fall at Chile-headquartered LATAM Airlines Group, which reported November traffic down 5.3% y-o-y to 322 million RTKs. This is a worse result than October’s 1.9% decline, but less bad than what LATAM has been reporting for much of the year. For the first eleven months of 2016, LATAM’s cargo traffic was down 9.3% to 3.15 billion RTKs.

United Airlines reported November cargo traffic up 15.5% y-o-y to 375 million RTKs, its eighth consecutive month of strong gains after a poor start to the year. For 2016 through November, United’s cargo traffic was up 6.5% to 3.72 billion RTKs.

American Airlines Group reported November cargo traffic up 9.0% y-o-y to 311 million RTKs. For the first eleven months of 2016, American’s cargo traffic was up 4.0% to 3.22 billion RTKs.

Its big US competitors may have posted double-digit growth, but Delta Air Lines remains firmly mired in decline, reporting November cargo traffic down 7.1% y-o-y to 233 million RTKs. For the year through November, Delta’s cargo traffic was down 10.2% to 2.65 billion RTKs. The drop continues Delta’s pattern of reporting high-single, to low-double-digit growth for most of the year.

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