Transpacific, Transatlantic directional imbalances emerge in WorldACD October report

The trials in air cargo’s 2019 saga continued with the start of the fourth quarter as WorldACD released its report indicating a decrease of 5% in international airfreight volumes year-over-year for the month of October.

WorldACD said this decline in volumes comes as “no surprise” to the industry, with October showing a y-o-y total chargeable weight loss of 5.0% worldwide. An increase in chargeable weight month-over-month of 7% from September may indicate better things to come for holiday season, though this is in line with seasonal expectations.

Taking a look at Europe, North America and Asia, which have been hotspots for political uncertainty and trade tensions over the past year, WorldACD found that year-to-date, all three regions are in line with the worldwide average of 5% declines in volumes. However, clear directional differences have emerged in two of the three markets between these regions, WorldACD said.

Exploring this claim, WorldACD said the Asia Pacific-Europe market is more balanced, with 2% more cargo going eastward that westward. Trade between Transpacific and Transatlantic markets, however, is much less balanced. There is much more cargo to North America than from North America, with volumes of 68% moving through the Transpacific and 40% through the Transatlantic. Unsurprisingly, yields to North America from both markets are also much higher than in the other direction, of 78% and  65%, respectively. However, in both markets the directional difference in yields became smaller when compared with 2018 – yields to North America this year dropped more than yields in the opposite direction.

Comparing 2019 with 2018 for these three regions, the total volume on the six markets in both directions dropped by 5.3% year-to-date, according to WorldACD.

More generally, airlines suffered a y-o-y decrease of more than 16% in cargo revenue in October 2019, combined with a decrease in y-o-y yield of 11% in USD. All regions saw contractions, ranging from declines of 8% y-o-y in Latin America, to declines of 1% in the Middle East and South Asia. Of all origin regions, Latin America was hit hardest with a decline of 10% y-o-y in volumes, while the only region that remained stable was Africa.

Specialty products performed better than general cargo this month. While general cargo worldwide declined 8.2% y-o-y, special cargo saw an increase of 2.7% y-o-y. High tech and pharmaceuticals saw increases of 13% and 8% y-o-y, respectively. Perishable goods, however, declined by 1%, with fish and seafood performing best with a 6% y-o-y increase offset by a decline in flowers of 3% y-o-y for October.

Seeming to be the new norm, specialty products did better than general cargo globally year-to-date. Pharmaceuticals, high tech and fish & seafood saw respective increases of 7%, 7%, and 11% y-t-d.

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Chelsea Toczauer

Chelsea Toczauer is the Associate Editor of the company’s daily news and monthly magazine Air Cargo World. She holds two BAs in International Relations and Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Southern California, as well as a double accredited US-Chinese MA in International Studies from the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University joint degree program. Chelsea speaks Mandarin and Russian.