Air cargo halfway 2013: is 'small' beautiful?

June 2013 confirmed the worldwide air cargo trend for the past 12 months: a slight decrease in volume and a serious drop in yields: the WorldACD Index - charting the long term trend - fell by 0.1%. But underneath the averages, a fascinating picture emerges of shifting balances in air cargo.

Comparing H1-2013 with H1-2012, WorldACD reviewed how countries fared: did G-8, Asian Tigers (remember the name?), or BRIC improve air cargo performance, and what about other countries?

The plight of the G-8 economies is clear from their joint outgoing air cargo figures: a volume drop of 4% accompanied by declining yields. In spite of everything written lately about their state-of-affairs, France and Italy were the notable exceptions: France more than compensated for a volume drop by an increasing yield, whilst Italy grew by 6% in outgoing and 11% in incoming air cargo, keeping the yield decrease minimal. In the USA, the North East and Midwest suffered more than the Pacific states.

The Asian Tigers Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Korea may no longer be the engine of growth they once were, but they stood their ground with a joint 2% increase (outgoing). Korea seemed to do best in this group. Much has been written about the growth of the large Middle Eastern airlines, mainly through transfer traffic. Less well known will be the fact that traffic to their home bases grew by 5.5%.

The BRIC-countries Brazil, Russia, India, and China as a group did not move a lot: outgoing cargo decreased by 1%, incoming grew by 0.5%. Brazil and China continued to grow in air imports, by 8% and 3.5% respectively. The internal shift in China is clearly visible: whereas cargo from the Shanghai-area decreased by 6%, China’s central & western regions grew by 17%.

The champions of growth are Indonesia, Australia, Bangladesh, Turkey, Pakistan, Vietnam, Ecuador, Ireland and – among the smaller countries – Uganda end Lebanon. Their growth in outgoing air cargo ranged from 48% (Bangladesh) to 11% (Turkey). These two countries also had the best balance in outgoing vs. incoming cargo. Central & West Africa looked good as well (more than 20% growth).

Of the largest 60 countries, 20 countries showed yield improvements, most prominently Bangladesh (+14%), Israel, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Central/Western China (+5%).

But the true balance shift is visible when comparing the largest 20 air cargo countries with “the rest”: the large countries combined contracted by 2%, whilst all the smaller ones together grew by a healthy 5.5%. We noted a similar trend among forwarders a while ago…