This year, Cargolux Airlines has seen freighter capacity continue to outpace weak cargo demand, which has pushed down yields and load factors.
According to a carrier spokesperson, the all-cargo carrier avoided a “major financial bruise” by constantly adjusting its network and adapting with the changes in the market. Its recent results seem to bear this out. In November, Cargolux carried 74,000 tons of freight, a 27-percent increase, year over year. Revenues also shot up, making the month the best in the carrier's history.
A slight improvement is around the corner, she said, but this will be fueled more by capacity exiting the market than a turnaround in cargo activity. This loss of capacity isn’t a short-term phenomenon, either.
“Certain freighter capacity — e.g. MD11F and B747-400BCF — is no longer competitive on a year-round basis on the trunk routes, and this will lead to a continued exodus of this capacity in years to come,” the spokesman wrote in an email to American Shipper
High utilization of its existing fleet kept Cargolux on track, she added, and that strategy will likely continue into 2014. The carrier will also continue to explore buying and leasing opportunities “as now the market is at right level to look at these.”
Last week, Cargolux saw the 35-percent stake in the carrier purchased by Qatar Airlines with great fanfare in December 2011, which was unloaded a little more than a year later, picked up by Chinese investors. The deal is still pending approval by Chinese regulators. Despite the recent stakeholder musical chairs, Cargolux hasn’t experienced any ill effects, she said. To that end, Cargolux experienced rampant service expansion in 2013, adding routings to Mali, Argentina and Vienna in the last few months. The spokesman said the carrier will likely cool down a bit on the expansion front in 2014.
“We can’t keep up the exact same pace,” she said, “but you expect more of the same as and when opportunities arise.”