E-commerce growth provides Asia Pacific some relief

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A Singapore Airlines Cargo Boeing 747-400F

The rise of e-commerce is providing some relief for air cargo in Asia Pacific as it copes with trade tensions, says the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).

Demand measured in freight tonne kilometres was down 3.2% in March to 6.3 billion, and by 5.6% to 16.7 billion in the first three months of 2019.

Capacity in freight available tonne kilometres continues to rise, up 1.1% to 10.2 billion in March and 1.4% to 28.9 billion between January and March.

Freight load factors have fallen, with a 2.8 percentage point drop in March to 62.4% and by 4.2 percentage points in the first three months to 57.7%.

Andrew Herdman, director general of AAPA says this is in contrast to the passenger market, which is remaining robust with 5.3% growth in the first quarter.

He says: “On the other hand, air cargo demand fell by 5.6% during the same period, reflecting cautious market sentiment linked to unresolved trade tensions, particularly between the United States and China.”

Looking ahead, Herdman says: “The ongoing shift towards air cargo for e-commerce shipments of consumer goods should provide some level of support to air cargo demand, although prevailing conditions remain weak.”