Few fireworks in November as global airfreight volumes continue to decline

Source ACI World

The 2019 decline in global airfreight volumes eased in November but with little chance of returning to positive territory before the end of the year, although 2020 should see “moderate growth” in the global economy.

That was the analysis by Airports Council International (ACI) World in its latest monthly report drawing data from a significant sample of  passenger and airfreight hubs worldwide.

ACI said that the freight industry’s difficulties “lessened somewhat” in November, with global volumes declining by only 2%, an improvement on a 2.9% drop in October.

November’s year-to-date change stands at a 3% decrease over 2018, with “seemingly no chance left of returning to positive territory before the end of the year,” reported ACI.

ACI World director general Angela Gittens said: “The year has been particularly difficult for airfreight, with the industry gaining around +3% [in 2018] and trending towards -3% for 2019, a drop of six percentage points.

“Considering the shock to the global economy generated by the multiple trade tensions flaring up, it is fair to say the situation could have been much worse.

“Current forecasts suggest that world economic growth should remain moderate in 2020, but still show an acceleration compared to 2019’s slowdown.”

While volatility in domestic airfreight continues, with a decline in global volumes still ongoing, ACI World reported that global passenger traffic grew by 1.8% in November 2019 compared with 2018.

In a regional breakdown of November’s airfreight volumes, ACI World said that the international segment saw a “particularly large uptick,” falling only by 1.8% on a year-over-year basis, compared to October’s 4.5% decline. The resulting year-to-date figure “went sideways,” standing at a decline of 4.4%.

Stated ACI World: “Domestic freight was a drag on the improvements generated by the international segment, dropping significantly in November. The former declined by 2.5% during the month, bringing its year-to-date figure to +0.4%.

“Unless that drop in domestic freight volumes reverses in December, the chances of the segment following the international segment in posting declining volumes for 2019 is quite high.”

Europe remained in negative territory in November, with volumes falling by 0.2%, bringing a year-to-date growth to minus 2.5%. The year-to-date figure was mostly in line with the region’s international freight market, which represents most of its market, and which stands at a fall of 2.7%.

Asia-Pacific posted a decline of 1.5% in November, after a much more difficult month of October (-4%). Year-to-date results are still down, at 5.1%, having fallen much more than the other major regional markets in 2019.

North America posted the lowest growth figure among major markets. The region’s total freight volumes fell by 4% during the month, to reach a decline pf0.8% on a year-to-date basis. ACI World added: “Still, end-of-year growth for the region should remain much higher than its regional peers.”

Middle East freight volumes fell by 1% in November, while Latin America-Caribbean declined by 2%. The two freight markets remained in comparable territory on a year-to-date basis, however, with declines of 2.9% and 3.3% respectively.

Africa, despite the success of its passenger market, suffered a “substantial decline” in November, falling by 4.5%. The region remained the only market with a positive year-to-date result, at +0.2% with only December left to go. The region started 2019 with particularly strong numbers, but akin to North America, July marked a “trend change” for its freight market.



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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.