IATA confirms slower air freight growth in 2015

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released figures for global air freight markets which identify that cargo volumes measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) expanded 2.2 per cent in 2015 compared to 2014.

This was a slower pace of growth than the 5.0 per cent increase recorded in 2014, reflecting sluggish trade growth in Europe and Asia-Pacific.

IATA also reports that after a strong start air freight volumes began a decline that continued through most of the 2015, until some improvements to world trade drove a modest pick-up late in the year.  However, there were variations across the regions.

Cargo in Asia-Pacific accounted for around 39 per cent of freight traffic and expanded by a moderate 2.3 per cent.  The key markets of Europe and North America, which between them comprise around 43 per cent of total cargo traffic, were basically flat in 2015.  Latin America suffered a steep decline (-6.0 per cent) while the Middle East grew strongly, up 11.3 per cent.  Africa also saw modest growth of 1.2 per cent.

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

Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO, explained: "2015 was another very difficult year for air cargo.  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 evermore competitive market conditions.  We have to adjust to the ‘new normal’ of cargo growing in line with general rates of economic expansion.

“The industry is moving forward with an e-freight transformation that will modernise processes and improve the value proposition.  The faster the industry can make that happen, the better."

The industry will discuss the key challenges in detail at the World Cargo Symposium (WCS) in Berlin, 15-17 March.

As the world’s largest gathering of air cargo professionals, the 10th WCS will bring together 1,000 delegates under the theme of ‘The Value of Air Cargo’ to debate solutions for strengthening air cargo and the vital service it performs for the world economy.