Middle Eastern airlines’ freight volumes expanded 1.7% in November last year compared to the same period a year earlier, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said in a report.
Capacity increased by 7.8% over the same period.
Seasonally-adjusted international air cargo demand has now trended upwards for the past six months helped by stronger trade to and from Europe and Asia.
Data for global air freight markets showed that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTKs), was flat (0%) in November 2018, compared to the same period the year before. This was the slowest rate of growth recorded since March 2016, following 31 consecutive months of year-on-year increases.
Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), rose by 4.3% year-on-year in November last. This was the ninth month in a row that capacity growth outstripped demand, IATA noted.
While international e-commerce continues to grow, overall demand faced significant headwinds such as signs of weakness in global economic activity, contraction in export order books in all major exporting nations, with the exception of the US, shorter supplier delivery times in Asia and Europe and weakened consumer confidence compared to very high levels at the beginning of 2018.
IATA’s director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said, “Normally the fourth quarter is a peak season for air cargo. So essentially flat growth in November is a big disappointment. While our outlook is for 3.7% demand growth in 2019, downside risks are mounting. Trade tensions are cause for great concern. We need governments to focus on enabling growth through trade, not barricading their borders through punitive tariffs.”
Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand for air freight shrink by 2.3% in November 2018, compared to the same period in 2017. This was the first time since May 2016 that monthly year-on-year demand declined.
Weaker manufacturing conditions for exporters and shorter supplier delivery times particularly in China impacted the demand. Capacity increased by 3.1%.
African carriers saw freight demand decrease by 7.8% in November 2018, compared to the same month in 2017. This was the eighth time in nine months that demand contracted. Capacity shrank 7.4% year-on-year.
Demand conditions on all key markets to and from Africa remain weak. Seasonally-adjusted international freight volumes are 7% lower than their peak in mid-2017; nonetheless, they are still 28% higher than their most recent trough in late-2015, IATA said.
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