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Freight growth stalls in May

By control on July 2, 2012

Cargo traffic around the globe declined 1.9 percent, year-over-year, in May, according to International Air Transport Association statistics. Freight traffic also dipped slightly from a month-to-month perspective, falling 0.4 percent from April volumes. Still, it’s not all gloom and doom, IATA explained in a press release: Cargo traffic has grown 1.5 percent since bottoming out at the end of 2011.

Overall, cargo carriers achieved a load factor of 45.3 percent in May. Although this figure is on par with April levels, it’s a 1.2-percent decline from May 2011, according to IATA.

IATA Director General and CEO Tony Tyler said these statistics speak to the fragility of the airline sector. “Business and consumer confidence are falling,” he said in a statement. “And we are seeing the first signs of that in slowing demand and softer load factors. This does not bode well for industry profitability.”

Even so, the exceptional performances of Middle Eastern freight carriers prevented further declines in May. In addition to reporting a 12.4-percent, year-over-year, increase in freight traffic, airlines in the Middle East raised capacity by 11.7 percent, year-over-year, in May. In the press release, IATA also revealed that Middle Eastern carriers captured more than half of the total airfreight growth reported so far this year.

What was gained in the Middle East was lost in Europe, however. European carriers reported a 5.7-percent, year-over-year, decline in cargo traffic in May amid a 1-percent, year-over-year, capacity increase.

Asia-Pacific and North American carriers also saw lower freight volumes in May, with tonnage dropping 4.1 percent and 1.9 percent, year-over-year, respectively. Airlines in these regions also took similar measure to curb capacity, with Asia-Pacific carriers cutting freight capacity by 1.7 percent, year-over-year, and North American airlines offering 1.6-percent less freight space than in May 2011.

Despite these drops, Latin American carriers posted slight cargo growth in May, according to the press release. Airlines in this region boosted freight capacity by 0.5 percent, year-over-year, and reported a 0.2 percent, year-over-year, traffic surge.

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