Aeroflot faces further falls in freight tonnage

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Aeroflot’s cargo and mail volumes continue to be weak, with a slight rise of 119 tonnes in August compared to July, but last month’s tonnage was still less than the year’s best months of March and April, when it handled more than 13,000 tonnes. 

Compared to 2013, the situation is much worse with a 16.4 per cent fall in the tonnage for August this year and comparing the first eight months of 2014 with last year gives a 25.6 per cent drop. Aeroflot blames these substantial reductions on it ending its freighter services, but in September this will not be an excuse the airline can use. The August uptick to 11,061 tonnes after July’s 10,942 does show a steady, but very incremental, increase since May, but September will have to achieve a dramatic increase of 20 per cent just to match April’s high. 

According to the Aeroflot website, there is no September 2013 results announcement. The figures so far for this year do not bode well for a 20 per cent jump. January and February were 9,692.3 tonnes and 9,860.5, March and April achieved 11,859.9 and 13,903.1, with May, June and July reaching 10,839.5 tonnes, 10,354.7 and 10,942.

Aeroflot says: “In 2013, JSC Aeroflot discontinued its dedicated cargo fleet, switching to belly cargo operations. This was the main reason that cargo and mail carried decreased by16.4 per cent year-on-year in August 2014.”

The international and domestic split of the latest figures show substantial international decline, of 27.9 per cent, while the home market only suffered a 1.5 per cent dip. The change for January to August this year is more dramatic with a 40.3 per cent fall in international cargo and mail, but a 9.9 per cent increase in domestic figures.

The revenue tonne kilometres (RTK) paint a better picture with a 9.1 per cent improvement overall, however for international RTKs there was a stagnant 0.2 per cent increase. Domestically things are taking off with a 26.2 per cent rise. The year-to-date (YTD) figures for January to August were no better with domestic RTKs up by an encouraging 24.6 per cent, but the international result was a drop of 4.1 per cent.

Stripping out mail and looking only at the revenue cargo tonne kilometres the situation is much worse on the domestic front, with a 4.8 per cent fall between August last year and now, and a 50.9 per cent drop for the international YTD RCTK. The domestic YTD result was still up but only by 7.1 per cent, a fraction of the cargo and mail increase of 24.6.

This picture of falling figures for the international market, but an improving situation domestically is reflected in the load factor. For August this year and in 2013, the overall fall was 0.6 percentage points. This should be more if the freighters were still being used in the month of August, their final month of operation.

Domestic cargo and mail saw a paltry 0.7 percentage point rise and internationally the load factor suffered  by 1.6 points. The YTD figures were similar. One outcome of Aeroflot’s increase in its bellyhold fleet is that despite its freighters being offloaded, the capacity, the available tonne kilometres (ATK) went up overall by 10 per cent. Up from 886.1 million ATK in August 2013 to 975 million last year. Domestically the increases in capacity were as dramatic as the RTKs, with 25 per cent more ATK comparing the two Augusts and 23.7 per cent for the last eight months compared with January to August 2014. 

For the Aeroflot group, August has seen a cargo and mail volume fall of 18.6 per cent, from 15,777 tonnes in 2013 to 12,844 this year. However, for the group there is no respite with better domestic data. Domestic fell 10.6 per cent and international 26.8 per cent. Yet for the first eight months, the decline for the international market was less at 39.9 per cent.  For RTKs, the picture was rosier with international only falling 1.9 per cent and domestic climbing 18.7 per cent. The wider picture though is one of mixed outcomes and the freighter excuse will not last much longer.

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