Asia-Pacific airlines' air freight fell by 6.4 percent in May 2019: IATA

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July 4, 2019: Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand for air freight contract by a hefty 6.4 percent in May 2019, compared to the same period in 2018, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) data for global air freight markets. Global demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), decreased by 3.4 percent. In April 2019, the contraction was 5.6 percent. 

The US-China trade war has and weaker manufacturing conditions for exporters in the region have significantly impacted the market. With the region accounting for more than 35 percent of total FTKs, this performance is the major contributor to the weak industry-wide outcome. Air freight capacity increased by 0.3 percent over the past year.  

“The impact of the US-China trade war on air freight volumes in May was clear. Year-on-year demand fell by 3.4 percent. It’s evidence of the economic damage that is done when barriers to trade are erected. Renewed efforts to ease the trade tensions coming on the sidelines of the G20 meeting are welcome. But even if those efforts are successful in the short-term, restoring business confidence and growing trade will take time. And we can expect the tough business environment for air cargo to continue,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's director general and CEO.

In seasonally-adjusted terms, the level of FTKs increased modestly for the third consecutive month, suggesting that the low point of this cycle may be behind us, although the market remains weak. 

Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), rose by 1.3% year-on-year in May 2019. Capacity growth has now outstripped demand growth for the 13th consecutive month. 

IATA represents some 290 airlines comprising 82 percent of global air traffic.

Airlines in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East suffered sharp declines in year-on-year growth in total air freight volumes in May 2019, while North America and Europe experienced more moderate declines. Africa, and Latin America both recorded growth in air freight demand compared to May last year. 

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