The air cargo sector may end 2019 on a positive note becoming the first month in 2019 not showing a year-on-year decline, and possibly signally the returning health of air cargo, says WorldACD Market Data in its latest update.
Load factors have climbed steadily since August, WorldACD notes, improving by 2.0 to 2.5 percentage points in each of the months September, October and November.
“Was that a sign of some degree of returning health for the beleaguered air cargo business?” asks the data analytics company. “We had to wait until the end of the year before – at last – seeing a somewhat positive trend in volumes transported,” it adds.
Worldwide chargeable weight was down by 6.9 per cent y-o-y in August, by 5.3 per cent in September, by 4.7 per cent in October, but by only 2.5 per cent in November. Should this trend continue the industry could see December figures marked by an absence of y-o-y declines.
WorldACD notes that even if December turns out ‘neutral’, the worldwide volume for the full year 2019 will be -4.3 per cent compared to 2018. Taking out the ‘bumper year’ 2018, the change from 2017 to 2019 will be -2.2 per cent.
Surprise growth out of China & HK
The most striking feature in the November results, notes WorldACD, was the ongoing growth in China & Hong Kong. The two origins taken together for the months of October and November, increased their outgoing volumes by 4.6 per cent compared with the year 2017 and by 5.1 per cent compared with 2018.
Main engines behind this growth are the destinations Europe and the Middle East & South Asia (MESA), but exports to North America decreased. High Tech was the fastest growing product category ex China & Hong Kong. Indeed, on a global basis, special cargo continues its growth track, recording its highest growth in November at +4.2 per cent y-o-y.
The largest kilogram increases contributing to the volume improvements in 2019 for China and Hong Kong, came from Apex Logistics, Kerry Logistics and Sky Dragon Logistics. Apart from DGF / Sinotrans, the world’s larger forwarders did not feature in the list of top growth forwarders in 2019.
The origin Asia Pacific as a whole, while more than 5.0 per cent down for the year 2019, did not show a y-o-y decrease in November. All other origin regions except one, also showed a better y-o-y performance in November than in the ten months before. That one exception was Europe at -5.1 per cent y-o-y for the year up till now, but -5.5 for November.
Seafood feeding cargo
The positive outlier in Europe’s performance this year has been Northern Europe, showing an 11.6 per cent y-o-y growth, largely driven by a phenomenal growth from Norway of more than 20 per cent, WorldACD notes.
Norway’s export by air consists for more than 80 per cent of fish and seafood, two-thirds of which goes to the Asian countries. The Norwegian Seafood Council attributes this growth to an increased demand for – in particular – the healthy ‘fatty fish’ types salmon and mackerel.
WorldACD Market Data’s database contains over two million transactions per month from 80 airlines and over 30,000 forwarder locations.