Fall in freight demand stabilises says IATA

THE International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released February’s international traffic statistics, which suggest that freight’s decline has finally hit bottom.

Freight volumes were 22.1 per cent below 2008 levels, the third consecutive month at more than 20 per cent below previous year levels (-23.2 in January and -22.6 per cent in December).

“Gloom continues,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general and chief executive officer. “Freight traffic, which began its decline in June 2008 before passenger markets were hit, has now had three consecutive months in the -22 per cent to -23 per cent range. We may have found a bottom to the freight decline, but the magnitude of the drop means that it will take time to recover.”

The recently released Eurozone Purchase Managers Indices, being useful forward-looking indicators for cargo traffic, showed a slight and unexpected improvement in March, although it remained in negative territory.

Middle Eastern carriers experienced the smallest fall in demand (-4.8 per cent). They were also the only region to increase capacity (5.4 per cent).

African carriers had the worst performance with a 30.7 per cent drop in international freight traffic due to a loss of market share on long-haul routes combined with the impact of the economic downturn.

Asian carriers – the largest players in cargo – saw demand fall by 24.7 per cent as the region’s high-value export-dependant industries were hard hit by falling consumer demand in the major markets of Europe, the US and Japan.  Japanese exports have almost halved from February 2008 levels.

European and North American carriers saw cargo demand decline 23.1 per cent and 21.8 per cent respectively. Government stimulus plans have not yet rekindled consumer demand.

Latin American carriers experienced a demand drop of 22.8 per cent driven by weakening demand for the region’s commodities.

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