Lufthansa Cargo reported a sharply lower decline in freight traffic in March, ending a long run of steep monthly falls and suggesting the slump in the global air cargo market also is bottoming out.
Following the release of the figures, the German airline said it expects a marked pickup in demand through 2013.
Traffic was down 4.5 percent in March from a year ago to 155,000 metric tons, a significant improvement on year-on-year declines of 12.9 percent in February and 8.3 percent in January.
Cargo revenue held up even better, retreating just two percent from March 2012, on 3.6 percent less capacity to boost the load factor by 1.2 percentage points to 73.7 percent.
Traffic in the first quarter totalled 399,000 tons, down 7.2 percent from the same period in 2012, on 7.4 percent less capacity.
The Lufthansa group, which includes Swiss WorldCargo, saw freight traffic slip 4.4 percent in March to 177,000 tons, while revenue was down 1.7 percent from a year ago.
The Americas, the carrier’s largest cargo market, posted a 1.2 percent drop in traffic to 56,000 tons, but the Asia-Pacific region continued to suffer from lower than forecast Chinese shipments, with volume declining 8.1 percent to 47,000 tons.
The Middle East/Africa market that has posted strong growth during the recent year stagnated in March at 17,000 tons.
Lufthansa Cargo, which operates a fleet of 18 MD-11 freighters and is taking delivery of two 777 freighters later in the year — recently added a twice weekly service between Frankfurt and Guadalajara, Mexico, and marginally boosted capacity to China.
“We intend to utilize market opportunities and grow profitably again,” said Lufthansa Cargo CEO Karl Ulrich Garnadt.