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February 01, 2016. When we started 2015, we looked back at a year with a healthy year-on-year (YoY) volume growth of 6.0 percent for air cargo worldwide, coupled with a drop in yield (in US$) of just 2.5 percent. Only 12 months later – now that the figures for 2015 are in – we cannot but paint a truly different picture.

YoY volume increased by a meagre 2.0 percent - which would have been even lower had the industry not had a Transpacific windfall in Q1 of 2015.

What a difference a year makes: we hardly see any growth in the business, but unit income and unit cost changed considerably. Worldwide, yield - measured in US$ - fell by a whopping 15.0 percent YoY.

However, the impact of that remarkable drop has yet to be established, as the cost of fuel decreased dramatically over the year, to the point where even consumers of fuel begin to worry about the disruptive effect this price fall may have on economies at large.

Worldwide growth dwindled from one quarter to the next: from 4.0 percent in Q1 via 2.5 percent in Q2, before it petered out to a mere 1.0 percent volume increase in both Q3 and Q4. One bit of consolation, though: the December month saw an uptick of 2.1 percent in volume YoY, combined with a Month-on-Month (MoM) decrease in US$-yield in line with the regular December pattern.

The pattern in the various origin regions was varied last year. The Americas showed negative growth for 2015 as a whole, whilst Asia Pacific entered this dangerous territory in the last quarter only. Africa just stayed in positive figures, whilst the Middle East and South Asia (MESA) showed up-and-down growth across the four quarters.

But it was Europe that really bucked the worldwide trend. From a growth of 1.1 percent in Q1, via growth varying from 3.0 percent to 4.0 percent in Q2 and Q3, before finishing the year strongly with a 6.0 percent growth in the last quarter.  

At the country pair level, cargo carried on the 50 largest route flows, as a percentage of the worldwide totals, was slightly less than a year earlier, in spite of the fact that quite a few of these large O&D’s are Transpacific, so they benefited strongly from the windfall mentioned earlier. 

However, the large O&D’s made up for their loss of volume share through a marginally better yield performance. The (very small) sub-region Central Asia and the (much larger) sub-region East Africa were the only two origins that actually recorded higher YoY revenues, as measured in US$. Surprisingly, the Caribbean was the only sub-region that increased inbound revenue.

A trend we noted a while ago has continued: the top-20 forwarders saw their worldwide market share decline further: from 44.5 percent to 43 percent. But Kuehne+Nagel and Nippon Express were the high flyers among the big guys, chalking up serious increases in their [market] shares, directly followed by the likes of DSV, SDV, CEVA and Expeditors.

Judging by the fact that sales via GSA’s grew by 5.0 percent in 2015, it seems safe to say that air carriers to [continue to] seek alternatives to filling their capacity via their own sales organizations.

- WorldACD Market Data www.worldacd.com

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