Positive but patchy says IATA

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Airfreight volumes increased in August, compared to July, but improvements have been patchy and differ region to region, with Asia Pacific driving the upturn, according to the International Air Transport Association’s financial monitor.

The Asia Pacific region is bouncing back after its decline during the first quarter and it saw a rise of 6.3 per cent for freight tonne kilometres (FTK), comparing August this year and in 2013. 

While IATA has stressed a bounce back in Asia Pacific, Africa has led the pack with FTK growth comparing August this year with 2013. Africa achieved 9.2 per cent. The Middle East is second with 7.8 per cent, Asia Pacific at 6.3 and North America is fourth at 5.5 per cent. European and Latin America come distant fifth and sixth, respectively with 1.4 per cent and 1.1 per cent.

However, available capacity is growing almost as fast or faster than these regions’ FTKs, examining the data for August this year and last. Reflecting its aggressive fleet expansion, the Middle East saw a six per cent jump in available FTK (AFTK), while Europe’s AFTK rise was more than triple its FTK figure, 4.8 per cent to 1.4. Latin America bucks the trend with a large 7.6 per cent increase in AFTK, while FTKs are the weakest of the regions at 1.1 per cent growth. This may suggest Latin airlines are not divesting themselves of enough aircraft to reduce that available capacity.

North Ameerica, however, has clearly reduced its capacity as AFTK shrank by 0.4 per cent. Africa and Asia Pacific both saw healthy differences between FTK and AFTK, with tonne kilometres more than double capacity growth for the former, and about a 50 per cent difference in the two statistics for the latter.

The freight load factors (FLF) tell a different story. Africa’s FLF is the lowest of the regions at 26.7 per cent, suggesting that its FTK has leapt from a low level, which is still so low only a quarter of holds are full.  Asia Pacific came out on top with more than 50 per cent for its FLF, indicating the economic bounce back is filling its holds with goods. With its fleet expansion, the Middle East is doing no better than  Europe with both regions at 42.8 per cent.

While recent data has been more positive for Asia Pacific carriers, the region’s first quarter slowdown has had an impact on second quarter financial results. According to IATA, the weakness in cargo revenues and rising cost pressures, especially for Chinese airlines, partly due to a depreciating currency, led to a stark contrast with North American carriers which saw improvements in revenue and profit compared to 2013.

With a patchy improvement, this situation may not last and future quarters’ outcomes will differ. What is certain is capacity will grow. Passenger traffic is advancing, its load factors start with the lowest region at 75 per cent. 

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