In Asia, Taiwan-based EVA Air and China Airlines reported year-over-year declines, while China-based China Southern Airlines and Air China reported mixed results in their traffic for the month of May. Singapore Airlines, meanwhile, saw a continued decline in its traffic this month.
EVA Air’s cargo traffic, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs) declined 6.0% year-over-year for the Month of May to 300 million FTKs. Load factors were down 5.8% with a 1.1% y-o-y increase in available tonne kilometers (AFTKs) for May. Year-to-date, EVA’s cargo traffic is down 7.6%, and tonnage is down 8.5%.
China Airlines saw an even steeper decline of 8.2% y-o-y to 450 million FTKs. These results for May continue the carrier’s four consecutive months of declines in traffic this year. Year-to-date, the carrier’s FTKs have declined 9.7% compared to the same period the year prior.
China Southern’s traffic for May increased by a slight 1.1% y-o-y to 650 million FTKs. Year-to-date, traffic is nearly flat (up 0.5%) at 2.9 billion FTKs. Domestic traffic for the carrier was down 1.7% y-o-y, while regional and international traffic increased 1.6% and 1.9%, respectively. Month-over-month, the carrier’s total cargo handle increased 3.5% from April, suggesting a slight rebound in traffic.
Beijing-based Air China’s cargo traffic for May was 1.6% lower than in May 2018 at 423 million FTKs. Overall tonnage declined by 1.5% to about 120,000 tonnes. For the first five months of 2019, traffic is down 1.4%, and tonnage is 0.9% lower than during the same period in 2018.
Singapore Airlines reported May cargo traffic down 3.2% y-o-y to 573 million FTKs, while cargo tonnage declined by 3.1% to just over 108,000 tonnes. Year-to-date, cargo traffic is down 6.2% to 2.7 billion FTKs.
The weak air cargo market comes as no surprise, as air cargo operators and industry associations have warned of the impact protectionism and tariffs could have on global trade for some time now. Air cargo may get a short-term boost with retailers turning to airfreight to avoid congested ports ahead of the tariffs. In the long term, however, companies expect worsening economic sentiment to continue impacting global trade, which has led some leaders in air cargo to hold conservative outlooks on growth for the rest of 2019.