Finally, it looks like we’ve seen a peak season worth remembering. Right on the heels of Wednesday’s positive report on November 2016 air cargo growth from the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines, Dutch market research firm WorldACD released similarly strong monthly results, calling the most recent peak season the most robust since 2009. November U.S.-dollar yields improved by 3.9 percent over the previous month while volumes increased by 6.9 percent, year-over-year (y-o-y), WorldACD reported.
Year-over-year growth in direct-tonne kilometers (DTKs) – which multiplies weight with the shortest distance between origin and destination of shipments – was only slightly higher, at 7.1 percent, “indicating a smaller shift towards longer-haul traffic than in previous months.”
David Harris of Cargofacts, explains that WorldACD considers DTKs to be a “more accurate reflection of demand because it eliminates the inflationary effect on FTKs of routes with intermediate stops. That is, demand for iPhones in Europe is the same whether those phones fly from China to Europe directly, or with a stop in Dubai, but the route via Dubai is over 3,000 kilometers longer, and using DTKs instead of FTKs more accurately reflects this.”
Exports from China and Hong Kong saved the day with U.S.-dollar yields to North America up by 25 percent, and to Europe by 30 percent. “Air cargo has not seen such seasonal yield improvements since 2009,” analysts noted. “Volume increases since the summer were spectacular in markets from Hong Kong (up 30 percent) and Shanghai (up 17 percent), also higher than in previous years.”
WorldACD noted, however, that revenue growth was realized from a low basis. Air cargo is still in the process of shrugging off an extended slump that paints recent gains in an exceptionally good light. Beyond the Asia Pacific region, analysts pointed to “perishables exporters,” such as Egypt, U.S.-Pacific, Chile and Colombia, as further examples of the turnaround, as volume increases for perishables during October/November ranged between 16 percent, y-o-y, for Chile, and 34 percent, y-o-y, for Egypt.