Air cargo clawing its way back up

GLOBAL airfreight growth of 4.5 per cent was recorded in January, according to IATA.

Air cargo has been growing at half the rate of global trade expansion, indicating a loss of market share to shipping, which has benefited from faster ships and cheaper fuel costs.

However the gap narrowed during the last half of 2007 with the sharp increase in prices. “The result is that air cargo has clawed back some lost market share, masking any early impacts from the downturn in the US economy.”

In the larger freight markets there is continued strength, said IATA. Asia Pacific airlines saw demand increase 6.5 per cent, up from six per cent in December, boosted by the booming economies in China and India. European airlines saw freight slump to 0.4 per cent in a pattern very similar to passenger traffic. Most of the airfreight is carried on long-haul markets where business for the European airlines has suffered from the strong euro.

“January traffic results show that we could be at a turning point. A month’s data is not enough to define a trend, however, the sharp shift in demand growth patterns makes it clear that the US credit crunch is negatively impacting air travel. Fasten your seatbelts. There is likely to be turbulence ahead,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general and chief executive officer.

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