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gatwick tailfinsSeptember continued the poor run of form seen in the airfreight industry over the course of 2019, with World ACD reporting a 5.4 percent decline in worldwide volumes.

It also recorded that yield (in USD) fell by 11.5 percent, and revenues from air cargo (in USD) by 16.3 percent. All origin regions suffered, Asia Pacific most (volumes down by 5.8 percent YoY, and revenues in USD by 18.9 percent) and Africa least (volumes down by 3.2 percent YoY, and revenues in USD by 6.2 percent). The destination Middle East & South Asia did better than all other destination areas (volume YoY -1 percent only). During the first three quarters of the year, all areas showed negative YoY trends, both in outgoing and in incoming volumes; Africa outbound was the only exception, registering a mere 1.1 percent increase…

The first three quarters of 2019 showed very different pictures for the 40 largest origin countries, which – together - produce 87 percent of the total air cargo volume in the world. Only 10 countries showed a volume increase YoY. As a group, these top-10 realized a growth of 8.3 percent. For the other thirty countries combined, growth was negative (-7.4 percent).

What caused the top-10 to outgrow the others by such a large margin?

The answer can be found in the data on special cargo. Compared with the first nine months of 2018, the top-10 countries increased their combined special cargo volume by 10.3 percent. The other thirty countries barely managed to grow in this category: +0.6 percent. But even more telling is the fact that in the top-10 countries combined, more than half of the total consists of special cargo (51.4 percent for Q1-3 2018 vs 52.3 percent for Q1-3 2019). For the other thirty countries, the share of special cargo is only a quarter.

For years already, special cargo has outgrown general cargo, a trend propelled by an increased worldwide demand for special products (in particular perishables). Thus, it does not come as a surprise that Norway, Kenya, Colombia and Chile, countries in which outgoing special cargo accounts for more than 80% of the total, are all part of the Top-10 group. Norway is in fact the top-country with a growth of almost 20%, whilst Pakistan and Vietnam also score growth above 10%. The group is completed by Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa and China. The latter country had no overall growth, but it recorded a 12.8 percent YoY growth in special cargo (mainly High-Tech).

Lastly, the important role of special cargo reveals itself not only in volumes, but also in yields/rates. In Q1-3 2019, we saw the USD-yield drop by eight percent YoY for general cargo, but by four percent for special cargo. And the gap was larger still in the abovementioned top-10 countries, which saw their combined special cargo yields drop by two percent only.

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