Asia Pacific airlines saw freight traffic grow by 6.2 percent in August on the back of robust demand for electronic consumer products, according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA).
While the AAPA statement did not specifically mention the iPhone 6, millions of the smartphone units have been shipped from Apple’s Zhengzhou and Shenzhen factories and much of the volume was carried by Asian airlines in the build up to this month’s launch.
Compared to the cargo volumes in August, freight capacity grew by a comparatively slower 3.2 percent, resulting in a 1.8 percentage point increase in the average international freight load factor to 63.5 percent, said AAPA director general Andrew Herdman.
"During the first eight months of this year, Asian airlines registered an encouraging 5.1 percent increase in air cargo demand, with trade activities strengthening on the back of an improvement in China's economy and an increase in exports to the US and Japan,” Herdman said.
"Overall, for Asian airlines the demand outlook for both air passenger and freight markets remains positive, sustained by regional economic growth and continued improvement in the global economy.”
However, Herdman warned that the region's carriers were still facing “very challenging” business conditions.
“Surplus capacity and an intensely competitive pricing environment have constrained revenue growth and led to further erosion of margins. Airlines are carefully reviewing their fleet and network development plans, whilst maintaining a tight rein on costs in a bid to restore profitability and sustain further investments for the future.”
According to Drewry Shipping Consultants, the approaching holiday season will lift air freight pricing through the rest of this year. Air freight’s peak season is generally October, November and December, as shippers use air freight to move cargo closer to the holiday season.