IATA reports modest growth in air freight markets

Data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has identified a slight growth in global air freight markets during September.  However, overall, air cargo volumes remain 1.2% down from their 2014 year-end peak.

In September, air cargo volumes, measured in freight tonne kilometres, rose by 1.0 per cent compared to the same month a year ago.  This was also a slight improvement on the August performance when volumes were broadly stable.

IATA also confirm that the latest results varied widely by region.  Carriers in the Middle East reported the most significant growth (7.5 per cent) followed by European (2.8 per cent) and African airlines (2.5 per cent).  Asia-Pacific based airlines recorded negligible growth (0.3 per cent).

In contrast, markets in North America (-3.3 per cent) and Latin America (-6.4 per cent) recorded declines.  All regions reported capacity expansions ahead of growth in demand, taking the freight load factor down to the lowest level since 2009 (43.2 per cent).

Coupled with a rise in demand in September, European carriers reported that capacity rose by 7.7 per cent.  The European performance looks more impressive considering that volumes for the year to date have been flat.

IATA also confirms that improvements in Eurozone manufacturing activity and in trade to/from Central/Eastern Europe seem to be finally feeding through to support air freight demand.

Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO, commented: "Although slightly improved from August, the global trend is fragile, and the improvement is narrowly based.

“The 2.8 per cent growth reported by European carriers reflects positive trends in trade with Central and Eastern European economies as well as a general improvement in manufacturing in the Eurozone.

“But the largest air cargo region, Asia-Pacific, was only just in positive territory, held down by weak regional trade," said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

IATA has further identified that the weakness in air cargo markets largely tracks anaemic growth in trade.  But the organisation is encouraged by the fact that the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was agreed with the intent of promoting economic growth and prosperity by liberalising trade across participating economies.

"Trade is the path to prosperity.  We have high hopes that the TPP will deliver its promised benefits to participating economies with air transport—cargo and passenger – playing its role as one of the catalysts for growth," said Mr Tyler.