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Capacity outpaces airfreight growth in June

By control on August 2, 2012

Global airlines increased airfreight capacity by 1.7 percent, year-over-year, in June, while carrying 0.8 percent more cargo. The International Air Transport Association, which gathered this data, explained in a press release that these numbers reflect the continued weakness of the global airfreight sector.

Cargo demand has rebounded by 2.5 percent since it took a nosedive in the fourth quarter of 2011. The strong volumes recently carried by Middle Eastern and African airlines has propelled this growth, with tonnage for these carriers surging 17.9 percent and 15.9 percent, year-over-year, respectively, in June. Middle Eastern and African carriers also increased capacity considerably in June, offering 14.2 percent and 12.1 percent more freight space, respectively, than in June 2011.

North American carriers also saw slight cargo growth in June, despite slashing capacity by 1 percent, year-over-year. These airlines saw a 1.8 percent, year-over-year, increase in freight traffic in June — a testament to heightened consumer demand in the U.S., IATA said in the press release.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the major Asian economies. The economic slowdown in China and India impaired cargo demand in June, with traffic plummeting 3 percent, year-over-year, in the Asia-Pacific on a 1.3 percent, year-over-year, capacity reduction.

Latin American and European freight carriers also posted declines in June, with cargo demand slowing 1.4 percent and 1.8 percent, year-over-year, respectively. Despite these drops, airlines in both regions increased cargo capacity in June, although the discrepancy between capacity and demand was much more dramatic in Latin America. In the press release, IATA said that Latin American carriers increased capacity by 12.5 percent, year-over-year, in June, while European carriers offered 1.8 percent more freight space than in June 2011.

To IATA Director General Tony Tyler, these figures highlight a larger issue at play. “The uncertainty that we see in the global economic situation is being reflected in air transport’s performance,” he said in a statement. “Although there are some pockets of solid performance, it is difficult to detect a strong trend — positive or negative — at the global level.

“Passenger markets have been growing more slowly since the beginning of the year and freight markets gains have been mostly very weak,” Tyler continued. “The net effect is a demand limbo as consumers and businesses hedge their spending while awaiting clarity on the European economic front.”

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