Air cargo dips in June

GLOBAL airfreight volumes were up 4.1 per cent in the first six months of this year in comparison with 2013, buoyed by improving global trade and stronger business activity over the past year, according to IATA.
June’s figures show reduced demand though, slowing to 2.3 per cent – down on the 4.9 per cent growth in May, data shows, writes Thelma Etim, deputy editor.
The most notable improvement over recent months has been in the Asia Pacific region, with local carriers experiencing a 4.9 per cent rise in FTKs year-on-year in June, says a statement. Regional trade volumes there remain at improved levels, after continuing decline throughout Q1. Moreover, although export orders for China remain volatile, there was a strong increase in July – suggesting the upturn in regional trade growth could be sustained in the months ahead.
By contrast, European airlines experienced a 1.5 per cent fall in FTKs year-on-year in June, and a contraction by the same rate over May.
Overall, the solid performance recorded by Asia Pacific carriers was negated by weakness in volumes carried by European airlines, IATA notes.
"Whilst industrial production growth over recent months has pointed to accelerating growth in the Eurozone, there has been some weakness in manufacturing activity and export orders, both of which erode some of the optimism around growth in demand for airfreight for regional carriers,” says a statement.
North American airlines’ freight volumes declined 0.1 per cent in the period. “Their overall performance may reflect the weakness in trade volumes that followed the severe weather events [in the USA] in the first quarter. But recent data now points to much stronger business activity which could support stronger global air cargo volumes in the months ahead,” the statement continues.
Not surprisingly, Middle East carriers continue to expand strongly. Air cargo growth in that region reached seven per cent in June, and is up 10 per cent for the year-to-date, with airlines capitalising on growth opportunities by expanding services to fast-growing emerging markets, such as Uganda and Mexico.
Elsewhere, African carriers’ volumes also grew (4.8 per cent), but Latin America is the only region to be in decline throughout this year, suffering a sharp contraction of 3.4 per cent in June. Sluggish trade growth and in particular the weakness of the Brazilian economy is dragging down growth, IATA reports.
“At the half-way point of the year, it is clear that overall cargo demand is much stronger than in 2013. Carriers in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East have been the biggest beneficiaries of the improved market conditions. Europe is doing reasonably well, albeit still in recovery mode. The weak spot is the Americas,” notes Tony Tyler, IATA’s chief executive.
“The general improvement in the economic environment is always good news for air cargo.”
This may not, however, be a straightforward recovery. “First, there are a lot of risks out there – from conflicts and sanctions, to potential national defaults and fear of the Ebola outbreak. Second, while air cargo is slowly emerging from two years in the doldrums, time has not stood still.”
Tyler concludes: “Logistics has become an even more intensely competitive sector. Shippers value faster end-to-end transit times, greater reliability and improved efficiency.”
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Established in 1983, Air Cargo News is the leading source of news, information, interviews, analyses and reports to the global airfreight industry. Our leading portfolio includes print, digital and events that give businesses in the airfreight industry the ability to connect with decision-makers in this sector.