October IATA airfreight figures show slow but steady growth in air cargo demand

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Dec 06, 2018: Air freight demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), rose 3.1 percent year-on-year in October 2018, according to the latest traffic statistics released by Montreal based body the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

This pace of growth was up from a 29-month low of 2.5 percent in September, informs IATA.

Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), rose by 5.4 percent year-on-year in October 2018. This was the eighth month in a row that capacity growth outstripped demand.

E-commerce boom and an upturn in the global investment cycle are supporting the growth. However, at the same time, demand continues to be negatively impacted by: a contraction in export order books in all major exporting nations in October; longer supplier delivery times in Asia and Europe and weakened consumer confidence compared to very high levels at the beginning of 2018.

Regionally, North American airlines stood out among other regions as it recorded the fastest airfreight growth due to strength of the US economy and consumer spending. Demand was up by 6.6 percent compared to the same period a year earlier and capacity increased by 8.2 percent over the same period.

Describing Asia-Pacific as the largest freight-flying region, IATA’s informs that the region’s airlines saw demand for air freight grow by 1.9 percent in October 2018, compared to the same period last year. This pace of growth was relatively unchanged from the previous month. Weaker manufacturing conditions for exporters, and longer supplier delivery times particularly in China and Korea impacted the demand. Capacity increased by 4.2 percent.

Freight demand was up by 1.4 percent year-on-year and capacity increased by 1.9 percent year-on-year for European airlines in the reporting month. Weaker manufacturing conditions for exporters and longer supplier delivery times particularly in Germany impacted demand.

Middle Eastern airlines’ freight volumes expanded 5.0 percent in October 2018 compared to the same period a year earlier. Capacity increased by 8.8 percent over the same period. There are signs of a pick-up in seasonally-adjusted international air cargo demand helped by more trade to/from Europe and Asia.

The region with the slightest growth was Latin America as demand rose 0.3 percent in October 2018 compared to the same period last year and capacity increased by 3.3 percent. International demand slipped by 0.9 percent, marking the first contraction in 11months. International freight volumes have fallen month-on-month in four of the past five months, reflecting broad weakness in the region’s key markets.

Africa was the only region that saw contraction in demand. Freight demand decreased by 4.2 percent in October 2018, compared to the same month last year. This was the seventh time in eight months that demand shrank. Capacity increased by 5.4 percent year-on-year. Demand conditions on all key markets to and from Africa remain weak.

“Cargo is a tough business, but we can be cautiously optimistic as we approach the end of 2018. The growth of e-commerce is more than making up for sluggishness in more traditional markets. And yields are strengthening in the traditionally busy fourth quarter. We must be conscious of the economic headwinds, but the industry looks set to bring the year to a close on a positive note,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's director general and CEO.  

Air freight market detail - October 2018

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