KAL cargo tonnage slips

by Canadian Shipper

Cargo tonnage carried byKorean Air (KAL), the world’s second-largest scheduled freight carrier, fell 7.6 per cent in the first three quarters of this year.

The airline, moved 667,000 tonnes across its network up to September, but has suffered along with other international airlines from the recent economic downturn and the September 11 terror attacks against the United States.

However, analysts say KAL has developed a damage-control programme which has protected the integrity of its key cargo operation, which generates almost 30 per cent of revenues.

“We have made a substantial reduction in passenger flights to the US, but we have no plans to further decrease the number of cargo flights. We are currently operating 41 freighters a week to North America, compared with 44 last year,” said Cha Jung-dae, vice-president of cargo marketing.

In September, the airline moved 106,000 tonnes of cargo globally, down 4.5 per cent from September last year. But through one of the worst months in aviation history, KAL’s load factor increased 2.3 per cent year on year to almost 78 per cent. In the first nine months, it maintained a capacity utilisation rate of 72 per cent, down an annualised 5.7 per cent.

In August, the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) suspended the carrier’s ability to expand destinations and code-sharing agreements in the US market due to questions about Korea’s airline safety record.

This forced KAL to shelve any US expansion plans it may have had. Cha said that given traffic volume decreases on transpacific routes, because of overstocking in the IT industry, KAL has returned three of the five freighters it had on lease to respond to those developments.

Meanwhile, KAL has doubled its freighter capacity between Seoul and Paris to four times a week since the start of this month.

“Europe routes have not been as badly affected by the September 11 events. They are at levels similar to that of last year, with electronic goods and garments making up the bulk of the volume,” Mr Cha said.

The SkyTeam link-up is allowing for common use of ground-handling companies at airports in New York, Paris and Inchon, which has helped ease increased security costs KAL is having to carry.

From November 14, the three SkyTeam’s partners also will launch their joint-venture cargo sales company.

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