Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Air Cargo Figures Rise as Freight Analysts Release Statistics

Tonnages Up Across the Globe but Notes of Caution Sounded Against Overconfidence
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – Lies, damned lies and statistics. As we all know the figures for freight tonnages thrown up monthly can vary according to who you talk to. Unsurprising, as the data which different organisations use to extrapolate the figures tends to vary fairly dramatically. With air cargo transport statistics for August 2014 just released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) it is encouraging to note that another group, using information gained from somewhat different sources, also has published tonnage figures which also show a similar healthy increase in global air trade.

The full rundown of IATA statistics can be seen here and show that overall, measured by freight tonne kilometres (FTKs), volumes rose 5.1% in August, compared to August 2013 whilst capacity grew at a slower pace of 3.4% from the previous year. This is the second strong month for cargo volumes in a row, following the 6.1% year-on-year rise recorded in July.

Middle Eastern, North American and Asian carriers were the big winners, all reporting growth of between 5 and 8%, whilst European and Latin American operators reported only 1 -1.5% improvements which IATA puts down to Brazilian economic weakness and EU sanctions on business with Russia, respectively.

In Africa IATA members recorded the strongest growth of air cargo demand with a 9.2% year-on-year expansion. Although this is the second consecutive month of strong growth, the volatility of African data, coupled with the slowdown in key African economies such as South Africa, means it is too soon to understand the extent to which this represents a real and sustainable acceleration. Capacity grew 4.2%. Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO gave his opinion on the latest figures, saying:

“The outlook for air cargo is clearly getting better. However, there are some limiting factors on the extent of potential gains. Demand for air cargo is growing more slowly than global economic activity. Businesses are reported to have more confidence in the future, but the list of political and economic risks continues to moderate how that confidence translates into actual activity.”

Another analysis of the market is provided by WorldACD Market Data which dedicates itself to providing market intelligence in the sector. Once again the latest report can currently be read here but a précis shows an even more favourable return that that of IATA with a figure of 6.6% volume growth whilst revenues are up 7.4% against the previous year.

The WorldACD statistics agree on growth areas but look specifically at city pairings, some showing remarkable gains. Of the 30 largest city pairs, Shanghai-Chicago grew in volume by 66%. Hong Kong - Los Angeles and Hong Kong - London followed with growth of respectively of 32% and 22%: all three also showed a yield increase. Hong Kong – Tokyo meanwhile dropped 11% and the current political upheaval in Hong Kong will doubtless impact on current figures.

There is however one warning note sounded in the report for freight operators. with the global yield increase lower than in previous months, which WorldACD believes may be a sign of things to come.