Demand for air cargo up 8.2 percent y/y in October

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Air freight demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), rose 8.2 percent year-on-year in October, according to data released by The International Air Transport Association (IATA).

This was the fastest pace of growth seen in 18 months. Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), increased 3.6 percent over the same period.

"Global air freight markets look set to end 2016 on a high note. Demand is growing at its fastest pace in 18 months. It remains to be seen how long this growth trend will endure after the year-end peak period and we still face headwinds from weak global trade. But there are some encouraging signs. The peak has been stronger than expected. And purchasing managers are reporting a pick-up in new export orders. So we will enter 2017 propelled by some much-needed positive momentum," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.

Some one-off factors are likely impacting October’s positive results: (1) there is potential modal shift to air cargo following the collapse of the Hanjin Shipping Company in August and (2) there could be some last minute reliance on air transport as companies exercised caution in ordering as a result of weak market conditions earlier in the year.

Structural market shifts are also likely underpinning a portion of the stronger performance. This includes strong growth in cross-border e-commerce and pharmaceutical flows. Preparation for the increasing popularity of sales events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday may also have contributed to the increased demand peak.

"The drivers of stronger growth are sending a major signal for change to the air cargo industry. Whether it is e-commerce or the trade in pharmaceuticals, shippers are demanding more than current paper processes can support. The shift to e-freight is more critical than ever," said de Juniac.

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