Asian carriers fail to capitalize on peak season

Many of the major Asia-Pacific airlines have now reported their results for October 2019 cargo traffic, and annual comparisons are not spectacular. Air cargo demand in October 2019, although lackluster compared to last year, remains higher month-to-month, indicating the presence of a peak season. For many carriers reporting October statistics, the month was the busiest so far, year-to-date.

To consider October results on a carrier-by-carrier basis:

Cathay Pacific Group reported October traffic down 5.9% year-over-year to 1.0 billion FTKs, despite month-to-month gains. Year-to-date, Cathay’s traffic is 6.9% lower compared to the first ten months of 2018, at 9.3 billion FTKs.

Commenting on the cargo performance, Ronald Lam, Chief Customer and Commercial Officer said, “Cargo volume continued to improve as the market entered into its peak season of the year, with demand picking up after the National Day holidays in October. This began with an uptick in raw materials and machinery parts into mainland China, followed by encouraging exports from mainland China and Hong Kong, especially into trans-Pacific and European markets. Month-on-month tonnage growth was recorded across all sales territories. We anticipate this positive momentum continuing through mid-December. However, overall cargo yield remained significantly below that of the same time last year.”

Singapore Airlines reported October cargo traffic down 10.3% y-o-y to 570 million FTKs, while cargo tonnage declined by 6.8% to just over 108,000 tonnes. Year-to-date, cargo traffic is down 7.0% to 5.8 billion FTKs.

Air China Cargo’s traffic for October was 6.3% lower than in October 2019 at 426 million FTKs. Overall tonnage decreased by 2.5% to about 127,000 tonnes. Month-to-month from September, traffic rose 8.0%. For the ten months of 2019, traffic is down 3.8%, and tonnage is 2.0% lower than during the same period in 2018.

China Southern’s October cargo traffic dropped 4.7% to 647 million FTKs. Year-to-date through October, traffic is flat compared to 2018, at 6.2.9 billion FTKs.

EVA Air’s cargo traffic, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), slid 2.0% year-over-year for the month of October to 310 million FTKs – the carrier’s second busiest month of the year since August. Year-to-date through October, EVA’s cargo traffic is down 7.4% year-over-year, and tonnage is down 8.0%.

China Airlines reported October cargo traffic down 7.4% to 489 million FTKs – the carrier’s busiest month year-to-date. For the first ten months of the year, traffic is 9.9% lower at 4.4 billion FTKs.