Air Cargo Continues to Flat-Line - Global Trade Magazine
  December 24th, 2015 | Written by

Air Cargo Continues to Flat-Line

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  • European carriers have driven recent improvements in air cargo growth, but ran out of steam in October.
  • IATA foresees improvements in the Eurozone, especially trade activity in Central and Eastern Europe.
  • IATA doesn’t expect North American air cargo volumes to rebound anytime soon.
  • Growth in Chinese export orders could result in better demand for air freight in the next two to three months.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air freight markets showing that air cargo volumes measured by freight ton kilometers rose just 0.5 percent in October compared to a year ago. Year-over-year expansion fell back from September’s faster growth rate, and total cargo volumes in October stand 1.1 percent lower than the peak of the uptrend at the end of 2014.

European carriers have driven recent improvements in air cargo growth, but they ran out of steam in October with a rise of just 0.2 percent. Although this is a weaker performance than in recent months, IATA foresees improvements in the Eurozone to continue, especially trade activity to and from Central and Eastern Europe.

Other regions also underlined the weak October trend. The most significant decline in cargo activity was experienced by North American carriers, who reported a 2.4 percent fall in volumes. IATA doesn’t expect North American volumes to rebound anytime soon.

Latin America and Africa also showed volume declines.

Asia-Pacific was up, little more than Europe with a rise of 0.3 percent. Chinese export orders, however, spiked in October, which could result in better demand for air freight in the next two to three months, according to IATA.

Growth in the Middle East, although a robust 8.3 percent, was some 4.3 percentage points down on the average performance for the year to date.

“The outlook for air cargo continues to be very difficult,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO. “While there was some optimism from third quarter growth it has all but disappeared as the industry basically flat-lined. Cargo capacity has grown largely in lock-step with the continued robust demand for passenger travel. As a result, freight load factors have sunk to the 44 percent range, a level not seen since 2009. Early signs of improvement in export orders may bode well for trade and air cargo but this is unlikely to prevent air cargo finishing 2015 on a low note.”

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