IATA traffic results for November 2012 show an upswing in both passenger and airfreight demand.
Air travel was 4.6 per cent higher than November 2011, up on the October result of 2.9 per cent. Airfreight volumes edged up 1.6 per cent over the same period after declining 2.6 per cent in October, year to year.
“November brought some positive signs for air transport demand – particularly for air cargo,” says Tony Tyler, director general.
“It is premature to consider this a turning point for air cargo markets in terms of bouncing back and regaining lost ground. But, when coupled with positive economic developments in the USA and an improvement in business confidence in recent months, the conditions are aligning to see a return to growth in 2013.
“In 2013 we expect that cargo volumes will grow 1.4 per cent, and passenger traffic will increase by 4.5 per cent worldwide,” he adds.
Passenger markets have held up better than cargo in the face of adverse economic conditions. But the current level of air travel is just two per cent higher than at the start of 2012.
“This is considerably weaker than the long-term average growth rate,” notes Tyler.
Compared to October, November passenger traffic grew 0.6 per cent. The majority of growth came from domestic markets, particularly China.
November airfreight volumes increased 2.4 per cent on October. “This reflects a shift in seasonal shopping to online retailers, which depend heavily on air cargo,” says the IATA chief.
It also shows improved consumer confidence in the US, he adds.
Seasonally-adjusted airfreight volumes have now risen back to the levels of mid-2012, after declines in the third quarter.
Looking at airfreight market regions in detail, it can be seen that, collectively, they rebounded strongly in November, expanding by 1.6 per cent after a 2.6 per cent year-on-year decline in October.
Although some of this increase reflects the impact of the Thai floods in the year-ago period, the month-on-month increase of 2.4 per cent is a positive sign, IATA believes.
Asia-Pacific airlines were responsible for almost half the rise in total volumes compared to October. The 2.4 per cent rise in month-on-month volumes for the region was in contrast to a 1.5 per cent decline compared to November 2011.Freight capacity fell 2.8 per cent over the period.
North American carriers increased airfreight traffic by 1.7 per cent, and cut capacity by 0.6 per cent, compared to November 2011.
European airlines’ year-on-year freight traffic was flat, and capacity grew just 0.3 per cent.
Middle East carriers’ freight showed the strongest year-on-year growth of any region, up 16 per cent on just a 6.1 per cenmt rise in capacity. Load factor surged to 46.7 per cent, up four percentage points.
Latin America-based carriers’ freight grew 4.2 per cent year-on-year, but capacity grew at more than twice the rate, up 8.5 per cent.
African carriers grew freight volumes by 4.4 per cent compared to November 2011. Although they kept the capacity increase to 3.6 per cent, the load factor of 26.2 per cent was still the weakest of all regions by a wide margin.