Cargo demand at European airlines seemed to plateau in January, with only Lufthansa reporting a demand increase of note.
The latest monthly figures show that IAG Cargo registered a decrease in traffic, there were small improvements at Finnair and Air France KLM (AF KLM) and Lufthansa registered a larger improvement. Performance during the month was affected by winter conditions.
The Germany-based carrier group saw cargo traffic increase by 6.3% year on year in February to 828m revenue cargo tonne kms, following on from a 9.3% improvement in January.
Meanwhile, capacity increased by 6% and as a result its load factor for the month edged up to 71.1% compared with 70.9% last year.
AF KLM, meanwhile, saw cargo demand increased by 0.7% year on year in February to 637m revenue tonne kms. This is in line with performance in January
Growth at the Franco-Dutch airline group has tended to lag behind its European rivals in recent years as it undergoes a restructuring of its freighter fleet.
While that process is now complete, it is also retiring its fleet of B747-400 combi aircraft. The airline currently operates nine combis, down from 16, and all of them are expected to be retired by 2020-2021.
February’s figures were also affected by strike action. Its cargo load factor was the same as the February 2017 figure at 60.5%.
IAG Cargo registered its second decrease in cargo demand in a row as traffic slipped by 1.1% to 427m cargo tonne miles.
For the year-to-date demand is down by 0.9% on a year earlier. Air Cargo News has approached IAG to ask why its demand growth has slowed after last year’s improvements.
At Finnair, cargo demand improved by 0.6% year on year to 59.5m revenue freight tonne kms. This improvement lags behind growth last year and a January improvement of 5.2%.
“Cargo flight volumes decreased from the comparison period, when Finnair rented cargo space from Japan Airlines,” the airline said.
“Difficult winter conditions at Finnair's home hub Helsinki-Vantaa and in many other European hubs caused several delays and cancellations in the beginning and end of the month,” it added.