As noted in this year’s Freight 50 feature, DHL reported the strongest y-o-y growth during 2018. The second-fastest grower on the list, Vietnam Airlines, made its first appearance on the Freight 50 list at the No. 46 spot thanks to year-over-year growth of 170.2% during 2018. Although many Chinese carriers have struggled to maintain growth with trade conflicts between the U.S. and China, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian gateways have benefitted from shifting trade flows in the Asia-Pacific region. Another new carrier to the Freight 50 list, Xiamen Airlines, came in at No. 50 with 23.4% y-o-y growth, making it the fifth fastest-growing carrier during 2018.
The carrier reporting the third strongest y-o-y growth was Saudi Arabian Airlines, which climbed six spots to reach No. 42 in 2018. Turkish Airlines reported the fourth highest y-o-y growth in traffic, at 23.8% to 6.1 billion FTKs. The carrier told Air Cargo World that it was able to grow so quickly by “using passenger [aircraft] belly cargo capacity more efficiently and [increasing] load factor ratios,” expanding its freighter fleet with the addition of 777F, A330F and 747F aircraft, and scheduling new freighter routes to destinations including Taipei, Ho Chi Minh City, Liege, Mexico City, Miami and other destinations.
The largest y-o-y decline was, unsurprisingly, reported by Nippon Cargo Airlines. Y-o-y, the carrier’s traffic fell by 40.5%. Although the carrier declined to comment for this feature, the fall in traffic is no doubt due to the grounding of NCA’s entire fleet of 747 freighters last summer after regulators found irregularities in maintenance records. While the fleet has since returned to service, the process took several months and cost the carrier substantial operational time.