The turnaround in international air cargo demand has extended into the month of October with a 7.1 percent increase, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTK), for member airlines of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA). Growth in demand significantly outpaced the 3.9 percent expansion in offered freight capacity, leading to a 1.9 percentage-point rise in the average international freight load factor to 65.7 percent for the month.
AAPA’s director general Andrew Herdman said, “The relatively strong upswing in air cargo markets in October sustains the positive trend established over recent months, although overall volumes for the first ten months of the year are up by just 0.7 percent compared to the same period last year.”
The underwhelming increase in volumes so far is largely a product of a slow start to the year, when carriers such as EVA Air were languishing in a two-year slump in traffic, due, in part, to political tension with the mainland. The Taiwan-based carrier started the year off with a downward trend in demand, with FTKs falling 13.3 percent, 20.8 percent and 15.2 percent, year-over-year, during the first three months of 2016.
Herdman’s circumspection aside, October ended up outperforming many expectations despite an outlook that was depressed by the typhoon that struck the region. Cathay Pacific general manager for cargo sales and marketing, Mark Sutch, said that, regardless of the carrier’s forecasts during the month from typhoon disruptions, “overall cargo demand in October was fairly strong and tonnage continued to grow.” He added that, “overall exports from Europe, Asia and Mainland China were robust,” and that “rates are getting back to peak-season levels.”