Volumes increase strongly in February, IATA

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Airfreight volumes increased, “very strongly,” in February compared to January, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The association published the results in its February-March Airlines Financial Monitor report, in which it sampled 66 airlines.

IATA says in February, freight tonne kilometres (FTK), overall, rose 11.7 per cent, compared to the same month in 2014. The Asia Pacific region, with FTK up 20.8 per cent and the Middle East’s freight tonne kilometres growing by 17.6 per cent, led this growth. 

In Africa, FTK rose 8.3 per cent, in Europe it was up 1.1 per cent and North America saw an increase of 8.7 per cent. But, in Latin America it was down 9.6 per cent. IATA explains: “This rise is likely to be temporary, as underlying drivers do not support the rate of acceleration. Part of the surge in volumes was due to a shift from sea to air, due to sea port congestion on the US West coast.” The association also says airfreight capacity, “increased strongly,” in February, consistent with the spike in FTK. IATA explains the rise came mostly from an expansion in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTK) by North American carriers. 

IATA says that in the second month, total AFTKs rose 7.4 per cent on February 2014. In Asia Pacific, AFTK was up 12.7 per cent and in the Middle East by 19.2 per cent. In Africa, AFTK was up 3.8 per cent, in Europe AFTK rose 2.4 per cent, and in North America AFTK increased by 0.7 per cent. In Latin America, AFTK was up 1.9 per cent. IATA says load factors continue to, “trend sideways,” meaning they are flat, despite a volume improvement in February, compared to January. It adds: “The growth in airfreight demand over recent months has helped sustain load factors, but continued expansion in capacity through the passenger business has kept rates low at 46.5 per cent.”

In February, the freight load factor in the Asia Pacific region was 54.2 per cent, in Europe 49.1, in the Middle East 45.6, in Latin America 36.9 per cent, in North America 37.7 per cent and in Africa 30.5 per cent. 

In the report, IATA explains that according to initial fourth quarter results, airline financial performance continues to improve. It says that its sample of 66 airlines shows the industry improved, “significantly,” at the operating level since 12 months ago.

The fourth quarter (Q4) 2014 net post-tax profit of the 66 carriers was $1.5 billion, an increase on the $334 million net post-tax profit in Q4 in 2013. 

North American carriers drove this due to their, “consolidation and cost cutting”. IATA says Asia Pacific carriers are “showing signs of improvement on a year ago, reflecting a combination of stronger demand and efficiency gains”. 

The association also says that there was a slight rebound in crude oil prices in February, stabilising at $60 a barrel in March, after falling below $50 in January.

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