In January’s first look, Asian carriers reported year-over-year declines in cargo traffic across the board. While the annual slowdown in manufacturing in Asia around Lunar New Year is generally anticipated, this year’s outbreak of the novel coronavirus had a significant impact on carriers’ traffic, likely a result of the adjusted schedules to and from mainland China. Air China and Singapore Airlines, both based in mainland China, were hit hardest for the month and saw double digit drops in traffic.
A closer look at carrier results reveals January declines for several carriers.
Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon reported a 5.4% YoY decline in cargo and mail to 855 million revenue freight tonne kilometers (FTKs). Meanwhile, tonnage declined 8.9% YoY in January to 151,964 tonnes.
“We saw reasonably solid demand across our network for the first three weeks of January,” said Ronald Lam, Cathay Pacific Group’s chief customer and commercial officer. “Our mainland China point of sales particularly stood out, recording year-on-year tonnage growth. By the last week of January, however, overall demand plummeted as manufacturing came to a halt in mainland China during the Chinese New Year holiday.”
Lam further commented on the impact of the new coronavirus on business, saying the delay of the post-Lunar New Year resumption of manufacturing across mainland China affected the company’s Hong Kong and Mainland markets.
EVA Air’s cargo traffic saw a decline of 0.6% YoY for the month of January to 271 million FTKs. Load factors were down 6.8%, with an 8.8% YoY increase in available tonne kilometers (AFTKs) for the month.
China Southern’s traffic for January decreased by 8.8% YoY to 587 million FTKs. Domestic traffic for the carrier was down 9.2% YoY, while international traffic dropped by 8.5%. Month over month, the carrier’s total cargo handle decreased 13.5% from December.
Air China’s cargo traffic for January was 14.2% lower than the same month last year at 351 million FTKs. Overall tonnage decreased by 15.5% to about 11,0836 tonnes. Domestic and international traffic for the carrier saw double digit declines of 16.9% and 11.3%, respectively.
Singapore Airlines reported January cargo traffic down 13.9% YoY to 472 million FTKs, while cargo tonnage declined by 4.1% to just over 905,000 tonnes. Cargo load factor was 5.9 percentage points lower and all routes registered declines in cargo load factor, according to a press release.