Airports Council International reports weak start to 2016

Echoing the mid-year reports from several other aviation groups, Airports Council International (ACI) said air cargo tonnage was flat for the first five months of 2016, rising just 0.6 percent in May, year-over-year, and 0.2 percent, y-o-y, over the period of January to May 2015. Passenger traffic, however, was a different story, increasing by 4.6 percent, y-o-y in May.

While the airfreight industry in general is highly exposed to economic trends, like China’s new-normal growth, air cargo was also competing with other modes of transport as freight load factors exhibited weakness, ACI said.

The Middle East reported a 3.3 percent growth, y-o-y, in total freight for May, followed by Europe, which rose 2.7 percent, and Asia-Pacific, up 1.4 percent, y-o-y. North America, Latin America-Caribbean and Africa all saw their air freight decline, down 1.5 percent, 3.9 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively.

Domestic freight took less of a battering, suggesting that e-commerce and the express business are still propping up the business. In North America, where overall airfreight was down, domestic freight in May was up 1.8 percent, y-o-y, and 3.1 percent for the first five months of the year, compared to 2015.

At the airport level, eight of the 20 largest airfreight hubs saw y-o-y cargo volumes decline in May, including Hong Kong (-1.1 percent), Frankfurt (-1.7 percent) and Beijing (-5.1 percent).

In general, May’s numbers are an improvement over the previous four months, suggesting at least short-term movement. Only Africa and Latin America posted worse y-o-y numbers in May than for the year, so far.

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