Australia is experiencing growth in volumes of inbound international air cargo, new official figures show. Freight volumes from overseas airports to airports in Australia grew by 7.3% in the year ended November 2018 to stand at 1,174,286 tonnes, according to the federal government’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE).
The greatest volume of freight uplifted / discharged from overseas to Australia took place on the Singapore-Melbourne route. In the year ended November 2018, which is the latest month for which data is available, 72,371 tonnes of freight were loaded on that route.
The Singapore-Melbourne route accounts for 6.2% of the total freight volumes of 1,274,286 tonnes between all city pairs as recorded by the Federal Government’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. Although the Singapore-Melbourne route accounted for the single largest amount of cargo, it actually experienced a marginal decline of about minus 0.2 percent in the volume shifted compared to the year ended November 2017.
The next biggest cargo route by volume of freight was Singapore-Sydney, which recorded 67,430 tonnes, representing 5.7 percent of the total and which was also down, this time by minus 1.5 percent.
Auckland (the capital city of nearby New Zealand) to Sydney was the third largest volume of aviation freight into Australia, up 2.5 percent on the prior corresponding period to stand at 54,247 tonnes in the year ended November 2018.
Other points of note in the dataset were that volumes on the Auckland-Melbourne route were greatly down by minus 14.2 percent to stand at 27,195 tonnes in the 12 months to the end of November 2018. However, that fall was more than offset by large increases on other routes. Dubai-Sydney recorded a 13.0 percent increase in the 12 months to the end of November 2018 to stand at 28,638 tonnes. Hong Kong-Sydney saw a 6.8% increase to stand at 53,122 tonnes in the year ended November 2018.
Executives were at a loss to explain the reasons for growth in volumes.
“Volumes are up but they are catching up to previous seasons; so I don’t think that there’s any specific reason,” one industry observer says.
The Australian aviation freight data is particularly interesting when the data for the month of November 2018 itself (i.e. not on a year-to-year basis) is compared with IATA data for the same timeframe.
BITRE reports that, in the month of November 2018, the total volume of air freight (both inbound to, and outbound from) Australia fell by minus 0.3 percent to stand at 107,183 tonnes. The fall in the overall November 2018 volumes was probably located in the inbound traffic volumes which fell by 5.9%. That fall in inbound volumes was offset by a 5.6% increase in outbound traffic volumes.
IATA noted that, on a global basis for the month of November 2018, that air freight demand was flat compared to November 2017.
“Normally the fourth quarter is a peak season for air cargo. So essentially flat growth in November is a big disappointment. While our outlook is for 3.7% demand growth in 2019, downside risks are mounting. Trade tensions are cause for great concern. We need governments to focus on enabling growth through trade, not barricading their borders through punitive tariffs,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Specifically in relation to the Asia-Pacific region, IATA recorded a fall in demand for, and an increase in supply of, air freight. The region’s volume of freight, as actually carried on a freight-tonne-kilometre basis, declined by minus 2.3 percent. Aviation cargo capacity in the region, as measured by available-freight-tonne-kilometres, increased by 3.1%.
IATA noted that November 2018 was first time that there had been a decline on a monthly year-on-year basis since May 2016. IATA pinpointed weaker manufacturing conditions for exporters and shorter delivery times as impacting demand.