Air Freight Growth Slowed to 2.2 Percent in 2015 - Global Trade Magazine
  February 5th, 2016 | Written by

Air Freight Growth Slowed to 2.2 Percent in 2015

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  • After a strong start, air freight volumes began a decline that continued through most of 2015.
  • Improvements to world trade drove a modest pickup in air cargo late in 2015.
  • Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO: “Growth has slowed and revenue is falling.”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released figures for global air freight markets showing cargo volumes measured in freight ton kilometers (FTKs) expanded 2.2 percent in 2015 compared to 2014.

This was a slower pace of growth than the 5.0 percent growth recorded in 2014. The weakness reflects sluggish trade growth in Europe and Asia-Pacific.

After a strong start, air freight volumes began a decline that continued through most of 2015, until some improvements to world trade drove a modest pick-up in air cargo late in the year. Cargo in Asia-Pacific, accounting for around 39 percent of freight traffic, expanded by a moderate 2.3 percent.

The key markets of Europe and North America, which between them comprise around 43 percent of total cargo traffic, were basically flat in 2015. Latin America suffered a steep decline (-6.0 percent) while the Middle East grew strongly, up 11.3 percent. Africa also saw modest growth of 1.2 percent.

The freight load factor (FLF) was at times the lowest for some years, falling to an average 44.1 percent compared to 45.7 percent in 2014, driven down by weak demand and capacity expansion.

“2015 was another very difficult year for air cargo,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “Growth has slowed and revenue is falling. In 2011 air cargo revenue peaked at $67 billion. In 2016 we are not expecting revenue to exceed $51 billion.”

Efficiency gains are critical as the sector adjusts to shortening global supply chains and ever more competitive market conditions, Tyler noted. “We have to adjust to the new normal of cargo growing in line with general rates of economic expansion,” he added. “The industry is moving forward with an e-freight transformation that will modernize processes and improve the value proposition. The faster the industry can make that happen, the better.”

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