Asia Pacific uncertain but seasonal boost set to come

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The outlook for cargo in Asia Pacific is “uncertain” due to global economic instability  but there is likely to be a seasonal uplift during the rest of 2015, according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).

In the association’s monthly report, it says airlines have seen their third month of year-on-year (YOY) declines in August, with a 0.3 per cent dip in freight tonne kilometres (FTK).

In August, carriers across the region saw FTKs fall to just under 5.3 billion, compared to just over 5.3 billion in the same month of 2014. Asia Pacific airlines saw YOY falls in June of 0.5 per cent to 5.3 billion, and of 2.2 per cent in July to 5.3 billion. Between January and August, FTKs have increased by three per cent to 42.6 billion.

AAPA director general, Andrew Herdman, (pictured) says: “Air cargo markets remain weak, reflecting a further slowdown in world trade in recent months. Overall, however, after accounting for the initial growth spurt earlier this year, air cargo demand has still registered a three per cent increase for the first eight months this year.”

The region’s airlines had had a strong start to 2015, with a YOY increase in January of seven per cent to 5.1 billion, due to consumer demand in Europe and the Americas, as well as the timing of Chinese New Year. February surged by 20.5 per cent to 4.8 billion FTK due to strong demand for Asian exports and industrial action at US West coast seaports.

Growth slowed as the West coast seaport industrial action cleared, with March seeing a YOY increase of 1.7 per cent to 5.9 billion. April saw a bigger increase, up 3.7 per cent YOY to 5.3 billion, followed by YOY growth in May of 2.9 per cent to 5.4 billion before volumes started falling from June onwards.

For the rest of 2015, Herdman says though the passenger industry is looking strong, cargo is less positive. “The outlook for air cargo markets is more uncertain, given signs of weakness in global trade activities, but should see some seasonal demand as we move towards the end of the year.”

In August, capacity in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTK) rose by 3.3 per cent YOY to 8.8 billion, one of the lowest increases of the year. The biggest rise of the year came in February, rising by 12.6 per cent to 7.4 billion, to cope with extra demand due to the seaport strike. It was followed by the smallest YOY surge in capacity in March, when AFTK rose by 2.4 per cent to 8.6 billion. In 2015, AFTK has risen by 4.3 per cent to 67.1 billion.

The load factor in August fell by 2.2 percentage points to 61 per cent. So far this year the load factor has fallen by 0.8 percentage points to 63.5 per cent.

Asian carriers have been joining forces with other cargo airlines to boost their networks and opportunities. China Southern Cargo will link up with Air France KLM Martinair Cargo from 1 November and last week Japanese Airlines Cargo and LOT Cargo announced a partnership.