Home' Asian Aviation : AAV October 2010 Contents AsianAviation | OCTOBER 23
Air cargo recovery slows
Air cargo demand typically responds
much faster than passenger demand
to economic uctuations, directly
dependent as it is on factors such
as industrial output. Indeed, cargo
tra c was already su ering a severe
slump in 2008 long before passenger demand plunged
to match it.
That is one reason why obser vers might think
passenger airlines have cause to feel optimistic about the
future, since cargo tra c gures this year have bounced
back dramatically. But some industry leaders are still
warning against an excessively rose-tinted outlook.
According to the latest gures from the International
Air Transport Association(IATA), cargo tra c in August
grew by as much as 19.6 percent -- a somewhat more
modest increase than the 23 percent leap experienced in
July. e association points out that the apparent slowing
of tra c growth is to be expected since the year-on-year
comparisons are now being made against a time last year
when recovery had already begun.
" e slowdown of demand in August is consistent
with our forecast for a tougher end to 2010 as
government stimulus monies run out without having
generated signi cant improvements in employment,"
cautions IATA's Director General and CEO Giovanni
Bisignani. " e [cargo] bounce from re-stocking is over.
We do not see the strong consumer con dence needed
to sustain the expansion with spending."
Freight capacity is matching demand trends, which
are stabilising, IATA says. Since December 2009, the 9.2
percent increase in freight volume has been matched by
increasing capacity, causing cargo load factors -- which
had improved rapidly through 2009 -- to level o at 51
IATA adds that cargo tra c in August was 3 percent
above pre-recession levels from early 2008.
During the rst three months of the year, air freight
grew at an impressive annualized rate of 25 percent. By
the rst two months of the third quarter, that had slowed
to 12 percent and now that companies have restocked
their inventories, the airline organisation expects growth
rates to settle back down to the 6 percent trend of
growth in world trade.
"Freight markets are still growing , but at a signi cantly
slower pace," IATA says.
The airline group also points out that recovery
patterns are shi ing. Freight volumes carried by Asian
airlines have increased by 3.8 percent since January,
while European and North American carriers have seen
6-8 percent growth over the same period.
"Several drivers are contributing to this shi . Weaker
currencies in the US and Europe are supporting export
growth and improving the competitiveness of US and
European carriers," the group says.
"Another contributor may be the fall in import
activity in Europe and the US dampening the demand
for nished goods manufactured in Asia," it adds. "Asian
carriers are the largest participants in global cargo markets
with a market share of 44 percent. Consequently they
are disproportionally a ected by the trend -- upwards
In the rst two months of this year, Hong Kong
International Airport (HKIA) posted an impressive
36.7 percent increase in cargo volumes as airlines
reported that tra c increased 28 percent.
In July, HKIA reported that both passenger and cargo
tra c in the rst half of the year had hit record highs,
with the freight volume totalling 2 million tonnes in the
rst six months of 2010. e increase over the period
was 35 percent, driven by the fact that almost all of the
airport's key markets were experiencing double-digit
growth, driven mainly by strong exports, which grew by
40 percent in June.
Exports, imports up
"In particular, exports to Europe and North America
increased by 44 percent and 81 percent respectively [in
June] as the global economy continued to rebound," the
airport operator says. "During the month, imports grew
26 percent while transhipments were up 4 percent."
"We believe our annual passenger and cargo volume
this year will likely exceed pre-crisis levels," said Stanley
Hui Hon-chung , Chief Executive O cer of Airport
Authority Hong Kong.
Hong Kong's largest airline Cathay Paci c and its
Dragonair subsidiary carried 149,009 tonnes of cargo
and mail in August, 13.1 more than in the same month
a year earlier. e cargo and mail load factor was 72.7
percent, an increase of 0.7 percentage points, while
capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres,
was up by 24.5 percent. For the year to date, Cathay says
tonnage has grown by 22 percent compared to a capacity
increase of 11.1 percent.
According to James Woodrow, Cathay Paci c's general
manager for cargo sales and marketing : "Our cargo
tra c in August was not quite as strong as the previous
month in terms of volume, and our tonnage growth was
some way behind capacity growth. However, business
was still solid for what is traditionally a quiet month for
airfreight, and yields in the market remained buoyant.
We are now preparing for an expected pick-up in the last
quarter by strengthening some of our scheduled freighter
Growth in freight demand is slowing once again from the dramatic increases seen earlier this year, as cargo carriers
still face yields that are severely depressed in the wake of the global recession, writes Andrzej Jeziorski.
Cathay is preparing for a pick up in
cargo demand in the final quarter.
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