IATA show airfreight drop in May

THE International Air Transport Association (IATA) released international traffic data for May that showed a significant drop in cargo growth to 1.3 per cent while passenger traffic grew 6.0 per cent.

At 1.3 per cent, cargo demand is considerably down from the 4.3 per cent recorded for the full year 2007. For the first five months of 2008, airfreight volumes were up 2.8 per cent. The biggest cause of the slow growth came from a 0.5 per cent contraction in Asian carrier traffic. This resulted from the impact of the earthquake in China and weakness in the Japanese economy. Asian carriers also saw weakness in transpacific markets with increased competition from US carriers taking advantage of the weak US dollar.

International passenger demand grew six per cent in May. This is slower than the 7.4 per cent increase recorded for the full year 2007, but stronger than expected given the economic downturn. The results were skewed by a shift in the US of 1.7 billion available seat miles (2.72 billion available seat kilometres) from domestic routes to international routes (a 7.9 per cent rise in capacity in international markets). North American carrier international traffic grew 8.2 per cent, while domestic capacity fell 3.3 per cent. Overall the underlying growth rate in global domestic and international traffic was three to four per cent (down from an average of six per cent for 2007).

“The high price of oil is re-shaping the industry. The major shifts in traffic flows experienced during May reflect this,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general and chief executive officer.


North American cargo traffic grew 4.6 per cent as US carriers shifted capacity from domestic to international routes. In addition to expanded transpacific opportunities, the US-EU Open Skies agreement created new opportunities in Europe.

Europe recorded a sluggish 1.4 per cent increase. The strong euro is damaging competitiveness for both European exports and the European air cargo business.

Latin America freight volumes contracted 13.2 per cent. Industry restructuring saw the replacement of retiring wide body aircraft with narrow bodies with limited cargo capacity.

Africa recorded its 11th month of airfreight contraction out of the past 12 months, with a fall of 6.5 per cent during May as industry restructuring removes freight capacity.

The lone bright spot was the Middle East where volumes rose 10.7 per cent on the back of oil-based economic growth.

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