Air freight slips 5% in August, in red zone since April

Last Updated: Wed, Oct 30, 2019 16:33 hrs
Airlines (PTI image)

New Delhi: Economic slowdown and softening of global trade continue to hit air cargo firms with the latest official data showing 5.3 per cent decline in freight traffic in August on a year-on-year basis.

Many of the shippers are facing cancellation of orders and buyers are insisting for discounts.

"New buyers are not coming. The existing buyers at times insist for discounts citing delays. The global slowdown has impacted India as well," said Afzal Malbarwala, Vice President, Galaxy Freight Pvt Ltd.

As per the monthly data released by Airports Authority of India (AAI), all the airports in the country handled 2,88,532 tonnes of freight in August, down 5.3 per cent compared to 3,04,716 reported in the same month a year ago.

On a cumulative basis, all airports in the country handled 142.27 million passengers and 1,423.74 thousand tonnes of freight during the April-August period of 2019-20.

Key items transported by air include high-value goods such as gems and jewellery, medicines, electronic goods and readymade garments. Perishable items such as fruits and vegetables were also carried by the airlines.

"Aircraft movements and freight traffic have decreased by 1.2 per cent and 4.7 per cent, respectively, while passengers have increased by 0.4 per cent during the period under study," the Civil Aviation Ministry said in a report.

Facing external headwinds and low demand in the home market, the Indian economy has been slowing down. In the first quarter of the current fiscal, it slipped to six-year low of 5 per cent.

Many research and rating firms had scaled down their growth projections for the full financial year.

The domestic aviation sector which had seen consistent double digit growth has now been witnessing subdued air travel demand resulting in low margins and losses.

Most airlines such as IndiGo and Air India earn a sizeable part of their revenue from ferrying goods in aircraft belly. They hope to increase the share of cargo in coming months.

"We are now also focusing on inbound cargo business from Southeast Asia and Middle East and I am very pleased with the response we are getting on these sectors," IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta told investors during a conference call recently.