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JAL cargo drop highlights regional trend

By control on September 6, 2011

International airfreight operations were down considerably for Japan Airlines in July, dropping 56.5 percent year over year. Global cargo volumes for the Asia-Pacific carrier weren’t only low in July; total tonnage for the final year ending March 31 also hit rock bottom, plunging 58.4 percent from 2010.

Domestic cargo traffic didn’t take as much of a hit as international operations did, however. Year-over-year tonnage only dropped 21.4 percent on domestic routes, with JAL transporting 33,843 tonnes in July.

Freight statistics for JAL’s fiscal year 2011 also looked more promising for regional operations. The carrier transported 119,753 tonnes of cargo in this period, a 21.4 decrease from fiscal year 2010.

JAL’s not alone in its plight. Cargo volumes for Asia-Pacific carriers were low all around in July, with tonnage falling 3.6 percent from 2010. Officials for the International Air Transport Association, which collected the data, attribute much of this loss to the residual effects of March’s tsunami and earthquake in Japan. “General economic gloom” was another factor, an IATA spokesman asserted.

But like in JAL’s situation, domestic operations were on the up. “While the [Asia-Pacific] suffers from a major imbalance with strong outward flows of manufactured goods and weak inbound traffic, the scale of their home carrier operations allows for better capacity utilization,” IATA officials said.

To address this trend, JAL has increased the frequency of six of its domestic routes. Starting October 30, the Japanese carrier will fly from Haneda to Akita four times a week, up from three. JAL will also operate its Haneda-to-Okayama and Sapporo-to-Hanamaki routes more frequently, among others. On the international side, the carrier announced that it will operate its Narita-to-New Delhi route five times a week, instead of four.

Not all adjustments addressed growth, however. JAL will cut down on the frequency of two of its domestic routes: Haneda-to-Fukuoka and Haneda-to-Kansai.

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