WorldACD said the air cargo industry continues to face turbulence at the start of the fourth quarter, with reports showing some signs of recovery at end-September, only to drop again as October kicks in.
WorldACD said September declines stabilized to -12.5% against -33% for April and month-over-month, September showed a 7% increase, while September 2019 was more or less the same as August 2019 as it marked the end of the first two “COVID-19 quarters.”
“The month itself seemed to bring some reason for optimism, as the year-over-year (YoY) drop in kilograms worldwide was by far the lowest since April,” the report said.
It said even yields/charges per kilogram seemed to “stabilize” in September at around US$2.82 (still more than 60% higher YoY…) — showing air cargo in its best shape since April.
WorldACD noted that general cargo was up by 8% month-per-month in September, and other product categories by only 4%. Transport of flowers increased by 7%, but other perishables, vulnerable goods and pharmaceuticals by around 2%.
Africa, Europe, MESA regions record growth
For September, WorldACD said the origin regions Africa, Europe and MESA (the Middle East & South Asia) had an above-average month-on-month growth of 11%, 10% and 8% respectively.
Airline revenues also increased by 6% month-on-month, due to a USD-yield drop of 1%, remarkably evenly divided over all regions.
The air cargo market data provider said freighter capacity in September was the same as in August, but cargo capacity on passenger aircraft increased by 3%. Average load factors on the two aircraft types improved by 1%-point and 3%-points respectively.
Meanwhile, cargo capacity on passenger aircraft grew strong on the lanes from Central & South America (+15%) and Asia Pacific (+10%).
The first two COVID-19 quarters revisited
“As we are all aware by now, the period April-September 2020 has produced air cargo figures unheard of before COVID,” WorldACD said.
It noted that worldwide market decreased by 21% year-on-year in volume with the origins of MESA, Africa and Europe suffering the most, and the Asia Pacific, the least.
“Most areas suffered losses on all major trade lanes (i.e. region-to-region markets) in more or less equal measure. The exceptions were the Asia Pacific and Central & South America. The former lost very little on the lanes to Europe and North America, whilst C&S Am only lost 7% on its lanes to the north," it added.
Due to a very severe capacity shortage, airline cargo revenues increased with 42%.
First half of October: another trend change
WorldACD said despite the encouraging news from September, the start of October seemed to tell a different tale.
“According to our provisional figures, the present month did not start well. Through October 18, weekly volumes are marginally down, whilst yields/charges are trending upwards since last week,” the air cargo market data provider said.
It added, though that the Americas seem to look slightly better than other regions, both month-on-month and also compared to the year-ago levels.
“The New York Times mentioned a few days ago that the economy in China “rebounds strongly”, citing the latest figures of China’s National Bureau of Statistics for Q3 2020. Our figures do not yet show such a trend for air cargo ex-China," WorldACD said.
“The flaring up of COVID-19 in both Europe and the USA may well change things again, as yields/charges from China to Europe and (in particular) the USA, are on the rise again after the steep drop in June/July,” it added.