Improved numbers obscure lackluster performance in April

The latest Drewry East-West Airfreight Price Index hinted that a spring rebound may be in store for air cargo , with their index rising 0.9 points in April to a reading of 80.4, following a 0.3 point gain in March. However, optimism that airfreight would rebound in April after a lackluster first quarter may be unfounded, according to another report released by research firm World ACD.

The World ACD report cautioned that April’s 2.5 percent year-over-year (y-o-y) growth occurred thanks to an additional Friday and Saturday, which are generally busier days for air cargo business. April 2015 also avoided the “Easter-effect,” which depressed air cargo figures from last year. The report concluded that, “April showed remarkable similarities to trends noted in the first quarter,” suggesting that extant market conditions are holding for the time being.

Meanwhile, the maritime research firm Drewry noted that the nearly 1-point rise of its index came in the wake of “four consecutive months during which the index declined over 20 points after peaking in October.”  Their outlook anticipated, “airfreight pricing to remain under pressure, with further deterioration anticipated into the Northern Hemisphere’s summer months as more passenger aircraft are brought into service to support the peak tourist season.”

Worldwide dollar yields for air cargo fell, month-over-month, by 0.5 percent, with the Americas continuing their drop in volume, according to World ACD. Volume increases in China outpaced other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, however y-o-y Chinese yields were down again. Hong Kong and Shenzhen posted negative y-o-y volume growth in April. The report noted the significance of “strong yield deterioration from Hong Kong, to Europe and North America in particular.”

Perishables and pharmaceuticals underpinned growth in air cargo performance, posting 2.52 percent, y-o-y, in April. Last month also saw 1.4 percent, y-o-y, growth in general cargo and 6 percent in non-general cargo. Data cited by the report saw perishables up by 4.8 percent, y-o-y, and pharmaceuticals by 12.3 percent. For perishables, North America became the top grower (+14 percent), while South America, a traditional leader in this category, continued to lose market share over the last months. Meanwhile, the Middle East and South Asia (MESA) region continued to erode Europe’s position as the leader in pharmaceuticals, registering 16.6 percent growth to the latter’s 7.3 percent, y-o-y.

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