Cathay Cargo continued to report air freight growth in August, bucking an industry downtrend, which it attributed to strong e-commerce volumes.
The Hong Kong-headquartered airline recorded air freight increases last month both on year-on-year terms and also compared to the volumes seen in July.
The airline carried 116,919 tonnes of cargo in August, an increase of 11.5% compared with August 2022.
Month-on-month, August numbers were also higher than the 115,729 tonnes of cargo handled in July.
Continued cargo boost from e-commerce
"Turning to our cargo business, August saw similar levels of demand and tonnage carried as July, as we continued through the traditionally quieter season for air cargo," said Lavinia Lau, chief customer and commercial officer at Cathay Pacific.
"As has been the case for a number of months now, e-commerce remains a bright spot for the business, with tonnage continuing to see positive growth," she added.
For August, cargo revenue tonne kilometres (RFTKs) increased 13.2% year on year.
The cargo load factor decreased by 8.2 percentage points to 58.8%, while capacity, measured in available cargo tonne kilometres (AFTKs), increased by 29% year on year as the carrier continued to rebuild its passenger network.
In the first eight months of 2023, the tonnage increased by 20.8% against an 87.8% increase in capacity and a 60.5% increase in RFTKs, as compared with the same period for 2022.
Looking ahead, Cathay Cargo noted that the traditional peak season volumes have begun — further boosted by upcoming shopping sales events such as China's 'Singles Day' and 'Black Friday' in the US.
"For cargo, September marks the start of the traditional peak period and we are seeing demand beginning to pick up well as businesses plan ahead for consumer sales events such as 'Singles' Day’ in the Chinese Mainland and 'Black Friday' in long-haul markets, as well as new consumer product launches that are on the horizon," Lau said.
Earlier, James Evans, Cathay Cargo's new general manager for Cargo Commercial, said Cathay Cargo is seeing "very encouraging demand" out of Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area (GBA) against a backdrop of continuing market uncertainty moving into the peak season.
"We are now into the traditional peak period, and we're seeing very encouraging demand out of our home market of Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area (GBA), in particular to North America, which is being driven largely by e-commerce," Evans said.
Increased freighter services to North America
In response to these encouraging signs, the new general manager for cargo said the carrier is introducing additional capacity for the trade.
"We have added more weekly freighter services to North America, and we're seeing healthy demand from there as well," he said.
Nonetheless, Evans acknowledged that the peak season this year won't be as pronounced as last year — citing different market environments.
"We don't expect the peak will match last year — the market is very different from a year ago, as all our customers have been conveying to us — but we're feeling optimistic and continuing with our plans for five more weekly transpacific services per week from this month," Cathay Cargo's new general manager for Cargo Commercial added.