Air France-KLM Cargo Gains

Air France-KLM Cargo Gains

Air France-KLM, Europe’s biggest air cargo carrier, reported freight traffic rose 2 percent in January from a year ago, driven by a recovery on its key Asia-Pacific routes.

Capacity was down 11.4 percent from January 2008, boosting the load factor, or portion of cargo space sold, by 8.5 percentage points to 64.3 percent.

The first rise in traffic for over a year, following an 8.5 percent decline in December, was accompanied by a “slight” rise in yields, the Franco-Dutch airline said.

Asia/Pacific services recorded a 7.7 percent rise in traffic on an 18.8 percent reduction in capacity, which lifted the load factor by 19 points to 77.1 percent.

Americas traffic shrunk 2.4 percent but the load factor rose 6.5 points to 65.7 percent on a 12 percent cut in capacity.

Traffic on Africa-Middle East routes increased 3.9 percent and intra-European volume was down 1.7 percent.

Air France-KLM has boosted load factors by focusing capacity cuts on its freighter fleet. It has idled 11 of its 29 freighters and recently sold on two yet-to-be delivered 777 cargo aircraft to Federal Express.

The carrier is also benefiting from an industry-wide increase in traffic, which has resulted in higher freight rates, particularly from Asia to Europe and North America.

But it is expected to unveil further cargo losses when it publishes its fiscal third quarter results on Wednesday.

The cargo unit, which includes Amsterdam-based cargo and charter carrier Martinair, booked a $219 million loss in the second quarter, which ended in September, against a year-earlier profit of $15 million as revenue slumped 41 percent to $851 million.