GENEVA – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air freight markets showing an acceleration of demand in September. Measured by freight ton kilometers (FTKs), volumes rose 5.2% compared to September last year, which is 0.8 percentage points ahead of the 4.4% average growth in demand reported for the year-to-date. Capacity grew by 3.8%.
Although the overall growth rate continues the positive trend of recent months, regional variations are significant. Airlines in Asia-Pacific, North America, Middle East and Africa all posted strong growth figures (between 5% and 17% above previous year levels). European airlines, however, saw a decline of 1.6% compared to September 2013 and Latin American airlines reported little difference from 2013 with just 0.3% growth.
“There were mixed messages in September’s freight performance. The solid 5.7% growth for Asia Pacific airlines is a particularly positive sign given their 40% market share. But the 1.6% decline in demand for European airlines is a worrying trend that reflects the general uncertainty in the European economy amplified by sanctions resulting from the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Overall, improvements in global business confidence have stagnated—which could mean a bumpy road ahead for air cargo,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Asia-Pacific carriers reported growth of 5.7% compared to September 2013. The region is benefitting from a rebound in trade activity after a slowdown in Q1. The release of the iPhone 6 also increased freight shipments from China. Capacity increased 5.6%.
European airlines saw air freight volumes fall 1.6%. This follows several months of persistent weakness as the Eurozone economies slow down, and the impact of sanctions on Russia continues. The Air France strike also impacted on volumes. Capacity grew by 1.2%.
North American carriers reported an increase in cargo FTKs of 5.4%. Latest data for business activity is positive, pointing to continuing growth in the months ahead and regional trade growth has accelerated. Capacity fell 0.2%, which helped support load factors which remain significantly below the global average (36.0% compared to 45.5%).
Middle Eastern carriers grew cargo volumes by 17.0%, a particularly strong result when compared with their average growth in demand for the year-to-date of 10.1%. Capacity expanded 14.5%.
Latin American airlines reported growth of just 0.3%. However, the data for trade and exports is positive, so there is a good chance that air freight volumes will pick up in coming months. Capacity climbed 1.7%.
African airlines saw air cargo expand by 11.5%. Regional trade volumes are still volatile, but there are signs that key economies, like South Africa, are showing signs of better performance compared to earlier this year. Capacity fell 1.3%.