Down, down, down

INTERNATIONAL airfreight volumes have fallen by 3.8 per cent in August (year-on-year), following a 1.8 per cent dip in July.

North American carriers reported a seven per cent fall in cargo volume for August (compared with the previous year), followed by carriers in Asia-Pacific down 5.4 per cent and Europe sliding 1.8 per cent.

Operators in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East grew 2.2 per cent, 5.4 per cent and 3.7 per cent, respectively.

August traffic results are in line with expectations for a decline in profitability heading into 2012, IATA said. Airlines are expected to see total industry profits fall from US$6.9 billion in 2011 to $4.9 billion. Historically, the airline industry has delivered collective losses when gross domestic product (GDP) growth (measured using current exchange rates) falls below two per cent. GDP growth has fallen from 3.9 per cent in 2010, to an expected 2.5 per cent this year and 2.4 per cent is projected for 2012.

Overall, utilisation on freight markets has declined four per cent since the second quarter of 2010 when weakness in airfreight represented a loss of market share to other transport modes. In 2011 airfreight reflected the lack of growth in overall world trade volumes. This latest decline shows a further deterioration in global economic conditions.

“Economic uncertainty owing to the European sovereign debt crisis and the growing likelihood of a protracted period of slow growth in developed economies mean the industry will be even more focused on reducing costs and improving efficiency,” IATA chief executive officer Tony Tyler said. “To ensure that airlines can continue to catalys¬¬e economic activity, we need governments to review the often onerous tax burden that they place on aviation.”

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