IATA.org has released their May international traffic results and air cargo is showing signs of improvement. After flat lining in the -20% range for the past 4 months, May’s decline in international air cargo was -17.4%.
* In May, freight volumes rose by around 3% above April levels as manufacturers began to add to their product inventories in anticipation of an economic recovery. However, inventories remain 10-15% higher than normal in relation to sales levels, indicating that a significant recovery is not expected in the near term. Surveys of purchasing managers indicate we could experience a further improvement in air freight demand during June and July to levels that are 12-15% below last year’s levels.
* Most regions were relatively aligned in the severity of the freight declines. Latin American carriers were the worst performers with a 21.0% fall, followed by Africa (-20.0%), Europe (-19.2%), North America (-18.8%), and Asia Pacific (-18.1%). Middle East carriers were the exception with a 3.7% fall.
* Capacity adjustments in freight markets have been catching up to demand declines. Freight load factors are 3.6 percentage points lower than a year ago. Freight yields fell by 17% in the first quarter, reducing revenues by 35%. Given the continuing downward pressure on yields, even the improvement in volumes in May will likely come without a corresponding improvement in revenues.