February continues cargo recovery

GLOBAL airfreight continued to grow in February adding weight to the forecasts of an earlier than expected recovery.

Cargo demand grew 26.5 per cent in February year-on-year. However, airfreight hit bottom in December 2008, with little improvement by February 2009. Cargo traffic has a further three per cent to recover in order to return to pre-crisis levels.

European airlines are benefiting least from the strong upturn in airfreight volumes, with year-on-year growth of just 7.2 per cent in February, compared to 26.5 per cent on average.

Despite the sluggish US economy, North American airlines have seen a rebound (34.1 per cent) equivalent to those experienced by Asia-Pacific (34.5 per cent) and Latin American airlines (41.9 per cent). While US gross domestic product expanded at 5.9 per cent during the fourth quarter, consumer spending was up just 1.7 per cent. The bulk of the expansion is attributed to businesses restocking inventories.

The global strong airfreight upturn has been largely driven by the business inventory cycle. This part of the cycle can be expected to wind down in the second half of the year when inventories reach normal levels. From that point, we can expect slower growth as airfreight will be driven by consumer spending and world trade growth.



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