Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Air Cargo Sees Slow Freight Tonnage Rises and Climate Change Victory with Carbon Offset Scheme

IATA Claims Environmental Victory and Publishes Year on Year Numbers as Russian Airline Announces Growth and Ground Handling Company Wins in Jordan
Shipping News Feature

JORDAN – RUSSIA – WORLDWIDE – This week saw the release of the latest world air cargo statistics from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which show ‘a continued modest improvement’ in air freight numbers during August. The organisation also pronounced a victory in its bid to negotiate a carbon offset scheme for the industry. Meanwhile Russian group AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC) has mirrored this performance with a rise in tonnages carried and a joint venture between Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) and Royal Jordanian Airlines has won preferred bidder status for some of the works available at the new Queen Alia International Airport terminal in Amman.

IATA has praised the decision taken by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at its 38th Assembly to commit to the development of a global market-based measure (MBM) which IATA says will be essential in achieving carbon neutral growth from 2020. It says the policy will ‘complement progress on improving technology, operations and infrastructure in the industry’s long-established four-pillar strategy to manage aviation’s climate change impact’.

Discussions will now commence on the details required for establishing standards for the monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions and the type of scheme to be implemented. IATA members overwhelmingly voted in June for just such a scheme to enable a manageable target for reducing the effect of the industry on climate change. The report of the ICAO meeting in full is available HERE.

As to overall performance of the cargo sector of the industry, IATA reveals that overall August air freight demand was up 3.6% on 2012, far outstripping the year to date performance so far of a lowly 0.7%. IATA says its statistics show that demand has been creeping up since April after a slow start, much credit of this is given to stronger economic performances in Europe and the US. Amongst the positive however is the fact that a strong upswing would require a significant improvement in the cargo performance of airlines in the Asia-Pacific region which accounts for the largest share of the global market (38%).

Asia-Pacific airlines’ freight demand was basically flat (-0.2%) compared to the previous August but still an improvement on the year-to-date performance which has showed a 1.9% decline. The Chinese market has been weaker and the regions carriers are losing ground to the expanding capacities of the Middle East carriers. Here we can see the strong growth that has been characteristic for the region all year with freight volumes increasing in August by 23.8% compared with the same period last year. This has been benefitted by Ramadan falling one month earlier than in 2012, a factor which of course doesn’t affect the year to date jump of 12.7% overall.

Africa is still suffering, down again for the period, this time by 9.7% following a good start to the year and then a steady decline leaving just a 0.7% growth figure for the first 8 months against 2012. As predicted Latin American airlines cargo volumes, which hold a comparatively small percentage of the overall market, grew strongly, up 12.6% in August. Robust trade volumes in Latin America (up nearly 8% in July since the start of the year) are providing a solid foundation for expansion in air freight demand in this developing area.

Comparatively North American air cargo volumes are suffering, IATA talks of ‘significant volatility’ with third quarter figures up slightly and August numbers just 1% up on July and 0.7% against last year. This leaves annual volumes still down in the doldrums, volumes are down for the first eight months by 1.2% as against 2012. Better news in Europe however, carriers reported an August growth factor of 3.4% with Eurozone export orders at a 27 month high point in the month leading to predictions of more growth in the coming months. Full details of IATA’s figures for August and the year so far are viewable HERE.

In Russia, ABC says it has seen a tonnage increase of 4% in August, resulting in an overall transport tonnage for the year of around 224,000 tonnes. In August, the airline carried 30,000+ tonnes of cargo, 5% up on the same month last year with average load factors also higher, up 6% to 73%. The airline says it has concentrated on increasing its operating performance indicator with the help of its partners across the ABC network linking Europe, Asia, Russia and North America.

ABC claims that its punctuality indicator averaged 80% over the last eight months, while the regularity of services was 97%, results it says, which are on a par with the performance levels of the world’s leading airlines. On key destinations for customers (Frankfurt-Beijing, Amsterdam-Moscow, Chicago-Moscow, Shanghai-Frankfurt, Shanghai-Milan, Shanghai-Moscow) the airline’s ‘delivered as promised’ indicator was over 85% and reached almost 100% on some routes.

In Jordan, although not strictly freight news, the collaboration between cargo and ground handling specialists WFS and Royal Jordanian Airlines has given the French based company a further presence in the Middle East with the news that the partnership has been awarded the exclusive contract to provide Meet & Assist Services at the new Queen Alia International Airport terminal in Amman.

Due to commence operations in Amman in late 2013, WFS and Royal Jordanian will be responsible for premium meet and greet services, visa-on-arrival and fast track handling, providing a packing and wrapping service and a porter service for arrivals and departures at the airport. The new terminal will increase QAIA's annual capacity from 3.5 million passengers to 9 million passengers, and later on to 12 million passengers.

WFS links elsewhere on passenger based handling but also often manages to integrate these with cargo management, as in the case of Thailand where WFS manages Bangkok Flight Services (BFS), a joint venture between Bangkok Airways and WFS, providing passenger, ramp and cargo handling services to over 50 airlines.

Photo: The new Queen Alia International Airport terminal. (courtesy .0015)