It’s been a long ride for air cargo operators who’ve managed to stay the course during some of the most turbulent years in the industry.
From November 2016 to February 2017, cargo did reasonably in terms of tonnage carried, but was loosing money the entire time. Capacity still outstripped supply. From March 2017 onward, tonnage moved kept fluctuating – the amount moved during March was twice that moved in December, but the amount charged to carry that tonnage (yield) skyrocketed to almost ten times that in March when cargo aircraft carried far more weight.
Cargo had its best month in November-December in terms of profitability, ever, with capacity unable to meet demand.
This has launched a scramble for old 744’s sitting idle that can be quickly put back into service, but don’t expect it to lead to a huge boom in freighter orders.
The current situation is one that cargo operators are more than happy with managing. They have just enough capacity, and it’s always better to have more demand than supply. Customers may complain short-term, but longer term, there’s no point in spending vast amounts of capital and having too much capacity from buying to many aircraft. If it’s not a bargain, its not worth having.
The sharp northern winter weather over the US and China is also leading to flights being cancelled – and that keeps prices high.
The big drivers in November-December were on-line sales, which have kept everyone from the likes of UPS and Fedex down, incredibly busy. Even so economic upturns in Europe and North America have driven sales of fast-moving goods and demand has almost taken the industry by surprise.