Airfreight nosedive continues with IATA January traffic

THE International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced international scheduled traffic results for January showing a deepening year-on-year demand slump.

The alarming collapse in cargo markets in December 2008 (-22.6 per cent) worsened in January 2009 with a 23.2 per cent year-on-year demand drop. This is the eighth consecutive month of contraction for freight traffic.

“Alarm bells are ringing everywhere,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general and chief executive officer. “Every region’s carriers are reporting big drops in cargo. The industry is in a global crisis and we have not yet seen the bottom.”

Asia Pacific carriers, representing 43 per cent of the market, led the cargo decline with a 28.1 per cent year-on-year drop. This was followed closely by European carriers at -23 per cent and North American carriers by -19.3 per cent.

Manufacturers are still shedding inventory and cutting production, which is expected to lead to further falls in freight volumes.

“The only good news is that fuel prices remain well below last year’s level,” added Bisignani. “But the drop in demand is much more harmful. The industry is shrinking with revenues expected to fall by US$35 billion to $500 billion, delivering a loss of $2.5 billion this year.

Bisignani called on governments not to increase the aviation industry’s tax burden while cutting other industries and to lift “archaic ownership restrictions”.

“Today’s crisis highlights the need to change the structure of this hyper-fragmented and fragile industry,” said Bisignani, referring to IATA’s Agenda for Freedom initiative.

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