Unexpectedly rapid recovery strengthens in March

INTERNATIONAL airfreight traffic in March continued to strengthen in demand. Compared to March 2009, cargo demand grew 28.1 per cent, up from the 26.3 per cent growth recorded in February. Obviously, the low point last year, being so extreme, must be taken into account.

Global airfreight is now within one per cent point of recovering to its previous high point of early 2008. International airfreight volumes shrank by over one quarter during the second half of 2008. The upturn in the business inventory cycle has almost eliminated that decline, although the upturn for international airfreight has taken twice as long as the collapse.

Despite the sluggish US economy, North American carriers have seen an international freight rebound (an increase of 32.2 per cent). Both export and import volumes are very strong in the emerging economies of Asia-Pacific (up 34.1 per cent) and in Latin America, which recorded the strongest growth of 47.9 per cent. European carriers showed the weakest improvement in freight demand at 11.7 per cent, largely due to the slow economic recovery in the region.

International freight markets are also experiencing tighter supply and demand conditions. The 28.1 per cent improvement in demand outpaced the 5.3 per cent capacity expansion in March. This drove freight load factors to 57.1 per cent; the highest since November 2002 when international freight load factors stood at 58.8 per cent.

“March results show that the pace of the upturn is strong. But the trauma of the recession is not over,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general and chief executive officer. “Nonetheless, the pace of improvement, based on an improving global economic situation, is much faster than anybody would have expected even six months ago.”

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