Cargo’s booming 2014 still troubled by lower yields

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Year-end figures from WorldACD and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) both showed impressive growth in demand and volume growth for 2014, yet global yields for cargo carriers continued a steady drop (see chart at right).

WorldACD, measuring demand in tonnage reported on air waybills from more than 50 carriers, reported an overall volume growth of 6.4 percent in 2014, compared with 2013. Middle East-based airlines outperformed all others for the third year in a row, achieving a year-over-year revenue growth of 13 percent. “They were the fastest growing airlines in all areas, whilst they were also the only group with a slightly increased yield worldwide,” WorldACD said. “In other words: this specific group of airlines continued their march towards prominence.”

Looking at WorldACD’s monthly figures, chargeable weight in December increased by 6.7 percent, but yields for the month (in US$) fell again by 5.6 percent, “a very worrisome figure at first sight,” the report said. Yields for the entire year fell by a more moderate 1.45 percent.

Meanwhile, IATA, which measures year-long demand in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), released full-year air cargo data that were nearly as optimistic, but showing a slightly lower rise in demand. IATA reported a 4.5 percent spike in demand for 2014, compared to the previous year. In 2013, annual FTK growth was a mere 1.4 rise over 2012.

December, showing the lingering effects of peak-season figures and the U.S. West Coast ports crisis, enjoyed a 4.9 percent year-over-year jump compared to the previous December. The Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions represented the lion’s share of the growth, contributing 46 percent and 29 percent, respectively, of global FTK increase. Latin America was the sole IATA region reporting a December y-o-y dip of 4.5 percent.

“After several years of stagnation, the air cargo business is growing again,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO. “This is largely being driven by the uptick in world trade over the second half of 2014. Recent concerns over the health of the global economy and a corresponding fall in business confidence have not yet impacted air cargo. But it is a downside risk that will need to be watched carefully as we move through 2015.”

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