Air cargo ends 2014 on a positive note

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FEB 5, 2015: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released full-year air cargo data for 2014 showing 4.5 percent demand growth compared to 2013 measured by freight tonne kilometers (FTKs). That is a significant acceleration from the 1.4 percent recorded in 2013 over 2012. The year finished on a positive note, with growth in December accelerating to 4.9 percent compared to December 2013. As usual, the vast majority of the growth in 2014, however, was in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions, which respectively contributed 46 percent and 29 percent of the expansion in FTKs. Except for Latin America growth was recorded in all other regions.

Asia-Pacific carriers grew 5.9 percent in December compared to December 2013, and 5.4 percent for 2014 as a whole. Volumes have benefitted from increasing import demand in addition to continuing manufacturing strength. Japanese and Chinese markets were particularly important contributors. Overall in 2014, capacity expanded 5.7 percent leading to a slight fall in load factor to 55.4 percent although this remains the strongest load factor of any region.

North American airlines reported demand growth of 2.8 percent in December and 2.4 percent for 2014 as a whole. After a slow, weather-affected start to the year, growth accelerated, driven by import and export demand. Carriers in the region cut back capacity in 2014 by 0.5 percent, helping to underpin the load factor (35.3 percent).

European airlines saw FTKs expand 2.3 percent in December, and by 2.0 percent in 2014 overall. The Eurozone remains weak and close to recession, with the effects of Russian sanctions also having an impact. Load factors also fell in 2014 as capacity expanded 3.0 percent.

Middle Eastern carriers enjoyed the strongest growth of any region, expanding 11.3 percent in December and 11.0 percent for the year as a whole. Airlines in the region have extended their networks and grown capacity by 11.1 percent to make the Middle East a hub for freight traffic. In fact they have been responsible for over 37 percent of the total increase in global freight capacity in 2014.

Latin American airlines reported FTKs falling 4.5 percent in December. This was the only region to report a decline. The picture for 2014 as a whole was growth of 0.1 percent. Latin American volumes have been affected by economic slowdown across the region, particularly in Brazil and Argentina. Capacity grew by 0.3 percent in 2014.

African carriers expanded FTKs by 12.2 percent in December and 6.7 percent for the year as a whole. Although major economies Nigeria and South Africa underperformed during parts of 2014, regional trade activity held-up, supporting demand for air transport of goods. Capacity rose just 0.9 percent for the year as a whole, helping to strengthen the load factor.

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