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February 2015: nothing to be sheepish about

With a volume increase of 8% year-over-year (YoY), February appears to have been another month of solid air cargo growth, continuing the trend of the past one and half years.

US$-yields including charges dropped considerably YoY, the same pattern as in January, although less pronounced (-6.8%). However, for the first time in three years, the worldwide US$-yield was higher in February than in January (+1.6%).

February-improvements were almost exclusively driven from origins in Asia Pacific. The area chalked up a YoY improvement of 28% in volume and 3% in yield. Compared to January, yields from Asia Pacific increased by almost 7%. As regards destinations, North America continued the pattern established in 2014, when it "absorbed" almost half of the total growth in worldwide air cargo revenues. In February 2015, the destination USA performed best, with a revenue increase of 32% YoY (measured in US$).

With data in for the first two months of the year, we may cautiously start talking about trends beginning to show. No doubt, the main trend is the effect the port problems in America have on air cargo.

The February performance was very heavily influenced by the phenomenal growth from Asia Pacific to North America, with a YoY-increase of 90% in volume and 13% in yield. The origin Japan, which returned dismal figures for quite a while, saw its fortunes change, showing a glorious transpacific performance. Volume more than doubled YoY, and revenues grew even more, in the wake of an astounding 44% yield improvement. As the month of January was very good as well, one may say that Japan has made an impressive start to the year, helped partly by the need for quickly shipping air bags to the United States. And one may also conclude that the port problems continue to play nicely into the hands of the airlines.

February 19 marked the start of the "Year of the Sheep", a good reason to do some analysis into business patterns around Chinese New Year ("CNY").

It is often said that business slows down significantly before as well as after the day itself. For that reason, and given the changing date of CNY in the Gregorian calendar, January and February are often lumped together when judging developments in business from places such as China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

However we found an interesting phenomenon: In the days preceding CNY, local carriers' activity in Hong Kong and China seemed to shrink seriously, but the overall market did not suffer: it only dropped significantly in the week after the auspicious day. Thus, as CNY in 2014 fell on January 31, this year we can view YoY figures for January and February each on their own merits.

Having said that, February was a good air cargo month indeed, almost entirely as a consequence of the performance of Asia Pacific. Whilst the area did well in all directions (also intra-region), volumes from all other areas except Africa decreased. Without the engine of world trade humming along rather nicely, the monthly growth would have been rather sheepish, actually.

- WorldACD provides air cargo market data based on airline sources covering all countries.

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