Japanese Air Cargo Surges After 15-Month Decline

Japanese Air Cargo Surges After 15-Month Decline

International cargo volume at Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways surged in March on a year-on-year basis, according to figures released by the two biggest Japanese air carriers.

After falling for 15 months in a row, JAL's international cargo volume grew for the fifth consecutive month in March, surging 32.9 percent to 53,875 tons. The year-on-year pace of growth quickened from 24.3 percent in February.

In fiscal 2009, which ended on March 31, JAL transported 593,988 tons of cargo on international routes, down 5.3 percent from the previous fiscal year.

JAL saw the volume of its domestic cargo grow on a year-on-year basis for the first time in 12 months in March, rising 9.6 percent to 43,050 tons. In fiscal 2009, JAL transported 472,534 tons of cargo on domestic routes, down 5.6 percent from fiscal 2008.

JAL filed for bankruptcy protection in January under the Corporate Rehabilitation Law, which is similar to Chapter 11 in the United States, marking one of the biggest corporate failures in Japanese history, and is in the process of rehabilitating itself under a state-backed plan.

In March, JAL announced a decision to pull out of the cargo flight business. JAL said at the time that it will adopt a new cargo business model that solely utilizes the cargo belly space of the airline's passenger flights and will stop operating freighter flights at the end of October this year.

JAL's decision to withdraw from the cargo flight business came less than a month after JAL ended negotiations with Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, Japan's largest shipping firm by sales, on integrating its cargo operations with NYK's air cargo arm, Nippon Cargo Airlines.

Meanwhile, rival ANA's international cargo volume grew for the seventh successive month in March on a year-on-year basis, rising a whopping 59.1 percent to 39,977 tons. In fiscal 2009, ANA transported 381,115 tons of cargo on international routes, up 16.7 percent from the previous fiscal year.

ANA's domestic cargo volume grew for the fourth straight month in March on a year-on-year basis, rising 2.7 percent to 42,095 tons. In fiscal 2009, ANA transported 457,575 tons of cargo on domestic routes, down 1.3 percent from the previous fiscal year.

-- Contact Hisane Masaki at yiu45535@nifty.com.