Air freight load factor drops to 68% in September last week as peak season approaches


October 7, 2021: Global air freight analyst CLIVE Data Services announced that the dynamic load factor jumped to 68% in the last week of September, from 64% four weeks ago, above any level of high pre-Covid season since CLIVE started sharing data in May 2018.

The dynamic load factor measures both the outlook for the volume and weight of the cargo carried and the capacity available to produce a true indicator of airline performance.

“The dynamic load factor for September remained overall at 66% – but saw a strong uptrend towards the end of the month,” the statement read.

CLIVE Managing Director Niall van de Wouw said: “There are a lot of signals and comments that seem to suggest that this will not be a ‘typical’ peak season. The recent week-over-week load factor increase is a significant leap by all standards and shows that the pressure on the air cargo supply chain is clearly escalating. If the airlines micromanage their capacity right now, they can benefit quite substantially. “

In a media interaction on Wednesday, Niall informed that he expects the dynamic load factor to continue to climb over the next several weeks due to the large increase in demand expected during the holiday season. However, he recalled that the increase in load factor and freight rates is not due to exploding demand but that the capacity is still insufficient compared to pre-Covid levels.

When asked if he would expect North Atlantic fares and load factors to drop with the introduction of passenger flights, Niall said while not at In the short term, this will be the first region to slip as the market is made up mainly of passenger flights.

“Airlines have allocated more space to spot fares than before Covid. But earlier this year, one airline said all of our capacity commitments at our three main hubs in Europe are no longer valid. I didn’t hear that this time. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it reappears this year, ”Niall said.

He pointed to the trade imbalances influencing the total load factor, as Asia to the west surpasses all other routes. During the last week of September (September 26 to October 3), the average load factor of major Asian airports to Europe and the Middle East was 92%.

Niall added: “The market from Europe to the North Atlantic was going through a tipping point. A few weeks ago it was 77%. It is now up to 82% last week. And likewise, the North Atlantic to Europe was at 51%. a few weeks ago and is now at 60 percent. “

“There are all kinds of indicators that the market is continuing to heat up,” he added.

Data for September 2021 shows billable weight growth of 1% from 2019, comparable to recent months, slowly reducing the deviation from September 2020 volumes to + 14% after levels of + 23% and + 19% reported in July and August 2021.

Capacity remained limited to 13% below the pre-Covid level observed in September 2019, while in August it was still below 16% compared to 2019, although this more reflects the reduction in capacity in 2019 due to the end of the summer season than an increase in capacity in 2021. Compared to August 2021, global air cargo capacity was more or less stable on a comparable month-to-month basis .

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