Airlines in Asia Pacific on the up

EVA Air Cargo Boeing 777 Freighter

Airlines in the Asia Pacific region continued to get a boost in airfreight volumes in April due the backlog of goods at sea ports on the US West coast, according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).

The association says that preliminary traffic figures for the month showed, “encouraging growth,” in air cargo markets, which “continued to grow, in spite of April being a seasonally subdued month”.

AAPA says freight tonnes kilometres (FTK) in the month were 5.3 billion, a 3.7 per cent rise from April last year when FTK was 5.1 billion. The available freight tonne kilometres (AFTK) in April was 8.4 billion, an increase of 4.7 per cent on the AFTK of eight billion in April 2014.

The freight load factor in April saw a slight decline compared to the same month in 2014. This was 63.5 per cent, which was 0.6 percentage points down on the 64.1 per cent that was registered in the same month last year.

AAPA says April’s figures were down on March when airfreight was boosted by the US West coast port slowdown. FTK was 5.9 million in March and AFTK was 8.6 million. The freight load factor was significantly higher in March reaching 68.3 per cent.

Both April and March were up on February, which is traditionally a slower month. FTK was 4.8 billion and AFTK reached 7.4 billion. The freight load factor was high in February at 65.2 per cent. January was a strong month for carriers in Asia Pacific according to AAPA with FTK at 5.1 billion. AFTK reached  8.3 billion and the freight load factor was 61.8 per cent.

AAPA director general, Andrew Herdman, explains: “Air cargo markets recorded a 7.2 per cent increase for the period, partly boosted by increased demand for air shipments due to the backlog of goods at US seaports.”

Looking ahead, Herdman, says: “The outlook for airfreight demand in the coming months is more uncertain [than passenger demand], given this is a seasonally weaker period, and will depend on the pace of recovery in world trade being maintained.”

AAPA says the first four months of 2015 have been positive for airlines across the Asia Pacific region. From January to April 2015, FTK was 19.9 million, up 7.2 per cent on the same period last year. AFTK was 33 million, up 5.7 per cent on the same four months in 2014. The freight load factor for the period was 63.8 per cent, up 0.9 percentage points compared to the same four months last year.

Last week, as reported in Air Cargo Week, AAPA said 26 airlines in Asia Pacific made a loss of $50 million in 2014, compared to a $2.2 billion profit in 2013, despite cargo revenue rising. Herdman said the operating environment was, “highly competitive”.