November 2016: best peak season in years

The usual air cargo peak season at the end of the year is shaping up as one of the better ones in a long time: since the - equally usual - summer dip, the USD-yield has gone up with a much larger percentage than in previous years, whilst November showed an acceleration in year-over-year (YoY) volume growth for the fourth month in a row.

Worldwide, the USD-yield improved in November by 3.9% over the previous month (and by 8.7% compared with August), whilst volume increased by 6.9% YoY. Deviating from the trend in earlier months, the YoY growth in direct ton kilometers (DTK's) was only slightly higher this time (7.1%), indicating a smaller shift towards longer haul traffic than in previous months. One of the influencing factors was the boom in the relative short-haul intra-Asia traffic in November (+15% YoY).

Characteristically, exports from China and Hong Kong played a major role in the positive end-of-year developments. In the main markets from Asia Pacific, between August and November the USD-yield to North America rose by 25%, and to Europe by 30%.  Air cargo has not seen such seasonal yield improvements since 2009... Volume increases since the summer were spectacular in markets from Hong Kong (+30%) and Shanghai (+17%), also higher than in previous years.

It must be said that the revenue growth was realized from a low basis. Yet, this year's peak season can be called a success. Although growth was concentrated in Asia Pacific, we have no doubt that the typical 'perishables exporters' Egypt, USA Pacific, Chile and Colombia will also subscribe to this view, as their volume increase for perishables in the period October/November ranged between 16% (Chile) and 34% (Egypt) YoY.

Looking at longer-term trends in the world's main geographical markets, we found some noteworthy developments in the years since 2010.  Whereas most markets continued to show the directional balance (or imbalance) they already had in 2010, the market between Europe and Asia Pacific did not. In six years' time, there was hardly any growth from Asia Pacific to Europe, but growth was 39% in the opposite direction, creating a reversal of the balance: air cargo volumes from Europe to Asia Pacific have now overtaken the volumes in the opposite direction, speaking for the increasing purchasing power of Asia.

Over the same period, we also saw strong growth in the smaller markets from Africa to the Middle East & South Asia (MESA) (+73%), from Central & South America to Asia Pacific (+58%), and within the MESA area (+55%). The real 'outlier' over the past six years has been the market between Africa and North America which contracted by 20% in both directions. The origin countries faring exceptionally well over the same long term were China South-East & West, Vietnam, Turkey, Norway, Luxembourg and Poland, all growing on average by more than 10% each year since 2010.   

All in all, one may say that 2016 has recovered well from its very slow start. With that conclusion, we wish all readers a healthy and happy New Year!