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Cautious optimism as air cargo volumes improve in May


FOLLOWING the extreme Covid-19 impact on air cargo volumes in the month of April, the air cargo market has shown some signs of improvement in May although a full rebound is not expected soon, according to analyst WorldACD.

The analyst said that worldwide, chargeable weight carried by air, decreased by 29 per cent compared with May 2019, which is an improvement on the 34 per cent drop registered in April.

"Although this small recovery does not promise a full rebound any time soon, in a number of markets some guarded optimism may be justified," WorldACD said.

The improvement was also visible month-over-month, as May showed an increase over April of 11 per cent, reports London's Air Cargo News.

Meanwhile, rates continued to increase during the month with yields improving by 5 per cent compared with the April level, which was in turn 63 per cent up on March.

"In other words, worldwide yields/rates still went up, from US$3.74 per kg to $3.95 per kg, in spite of additional capacity coming to the market by an increasing number of passenger aircraft being (partly) converted into freighters," WorldACD said.

However, there was some drop-off in prices as the month progressed.

WorldACD data shows that the Middle East & South Asia (MESA) suffered the most in April (-70 per cent YoY), but came back strongest in May (+45 per cent MoM).

WorldACD added: "The other origin regions showed a MoM increase varying from 4 per cent (North America) to 14 per cent (Central & South America). The origin Africa showed the largest increase in US dollar-yields/rates (+13 per cent MoM) whilst changes in other regions hovered between -10 per cent (Europe and North America) and +12 per cent (Asia Pacific & MESA)."

WorldACD said that in terms of product categories, the most "unexpected development" was a one per cent YoY decrease in pharmaceuticals & temperature-controlled goods, the first such decrease for this category in 2020.

The larger perishable categories outperformed the market as a whole in MoM growth: Fruits & Vegetables +16 per cent and Fish & Seafood +26 per cent.

"The much-reported increase in passenger aircraft being transformed into 'quasi-freighters' was clearly visible in the strong load factor jump in passenger aircraft," WorldACD said. "Within the month of May, we also noted a drop in the market share of the freighter companies between the first full week of May and the last one, another sign that the conversions started to have some impact."

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