AMSTERDAM: September 01, 2019. Air cargo analyst WorldACD says July air cargo data slowed to only -4.2 percent year-on-year (YoY). However, this might have been more to do with how many Sundays there were in the month:

“Yield stood at US$1.75 (-7.7 percent YoY, -1.7 percent MoM). The yield in EUR stood at 1.56.The cargo load factor dropped by three percentage-points YoY, and by 0.6 percent MoM.

“High-Tech & Other Vulnerable Goods increased by 6.4 percent YoY, while Pharma & Temperature Controlled Goods rose by 10.8 percent YoY. Perishables in total grew 3.7 percent YoY: flowers, fruits & vegetables did best (+6.1 percent YoY) and meat did worst (-3.4 percent).

“When it comes to YoY-comparisons for the first seven months of this dismal year for air cargo, July 2019 distinguished itself in a relatively positive way. The month showed one of the smaller YoY decreases since January, when the world still looked reasonably OK. Following the deep drop in June (-8.9 percent YoY in kgs), July seemingly marked quite an improvement (-4.2 percent YoY).

“Yet, a close look at both months shows that performances may have been more in line with each other than the individual monthly figures led us to believe. Compared to 2018, June had five Sundays instead of four, whilst the opposite was the case for July. The change in Whitsunday from May 2018 to June 2019 also played a role. Thus, June was negatively influenced and July positively.

"For a long time, special products have outperformed general cargo. This trend continued in July 2019, with YoY volume growth of resp. 3.5 percent and -7.4 percent. Not surprisingly, we observe a growing interest in the air cargo sector to understand in detail the market dynamics in the various special cargo categories.

“Upheaval in international relations has been the order of the day this year. And even though the worst effects of the US-instigated trade war(s) may still have to reach air cargo, the general sentiment in the world is obviously not doing the industry a whole lot of good. According to the article ‘A stark choice faces Trump in trade war with China’ in last week’s International New York Times, ‘Trump can try to sever the deeply intertwined American commercial relationship with China, or he can prod economic growth to assuage the fears of investors around the planet. But he cannot do both at the same time.’ That pretty much sums up the predicament world trade finds itself in. Necessary though it may be to create a level-playing field with China, the actions taken so far do not bode well for world-trade in the short term.

“Now that consumer goods have also been targeted for tariff increases, air cargo figures as from August may well take an even deeper dive than shown so far. However, as we all know that averages never tell the whole story, performances at regional, country and trade lane level may remain widely divergent. In almost all of the world’s regions of origin, some countries are much harder hit than others.

"So far this year YoY revenues (in US$) showed the following pattern: Africa +1.3 percent but South Africa -5.4 percent, Latin America -0.9 percent but Brazil -18.1 percent, Europe –14.8 percent but Germany –22.5 percent, Middle East and South Asia -4.8 percent but Bangladesh -25.5 percent. It should be noted that jet fuel prices in July were 10 percent lower than a year earlier.

“Asia Pacific and Europe [markets] are the big losers in the year so far (in revenues measured in US$) with respective YoY figures of -10.9 percent, while the USA ‘only’ lost 6.0 percent YoY outgoing (but 8.5 percent inbound).

“On a more upbeat note, some airlines must have been pleased filling the large gap left in a number of markets by the demise of Jet Airways. To give but one example, in the market from India to the Netherlands the forwarding world paid the price for the fact that a very important player fell away: Jet Airways’ competitors grew considerably in this market, whilst the average rate increased by 7.5 percent.”