Lufthansa reported the six month long plunge in cargo traffic leveled out in May, mirroring the experience of its close European rivals Air France-KLM and British Airways.
Lufthansa Cargo, Europe's second largest scheduled cargo airline, carried 125,000 tonnes of freight in May, a 9.1 percent decline from a year ago that left traffic in the first five months of 2009 down 21.4 percent at 566,000 tonnes.
The decline in May shipments is a major improvement on the steep declines earlier in the year which peaked at 26.7 percent in April on sharply lower German exports to North America and the Asia/Pacific region.
Lufthansa Cargo's sales fell, however, by 15.7 percent in May from a year ago, as yields remained under pressure.
Capacity was 9 percent lower than a year ago, trimming the load factor, or capacity utilization, by 4.8 percentage points, to 60.3 percent.
The Lufthansa group's overall freight traffic, including Swiss World Cargo, fell by 10 percent in May to 141,000 tonnes from 158,000 tonnes in the year-earlier period. Volume in the first five months of the year was 21 percent lower at 645,000 tonnes.
"Cargo demand has stabilized at a very low level, which is giving good reason for substantial concern for the future of this business," said Christoph Franz, chief executive officer of Lufthansa's Swiss unit.
“We are not forecasting a miracle," Franz, who is also deputy CEO of Lufthansa, said at this week's meeting of the International Air Transport Association in Kuala Lumpur.
The Americas network recovered from a 35.8 percent plunge in April shipments, with May volume down 13.6 percent at 39,000 tonnes. Asia/Pacific traffic, which fell 25.6 percent in April, declined by 11.8 percent in May to 38,000 tonnes.
Short haul European traffic declined 10.2 percent in May to 49,000 tonnes. Middle East/Africa traffic recovered from a 3.5 percent drop in April to grow 9.2 percent to 14,000 tonnes in May.
Air France-KLM's freight traffic, including its all-cargo subsidiary Martinair, fell by just 1 percent in May from a year ago, while British Airways May traffic declined 9.5 percent.
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